We must make 2021 an exceptionally good year
08. 01. 2021.
The restrictive measures implemented due to the coronavirus epidemic will be extended until 1 February, and online education in secondary schools will also remain in place, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced the Operational Group’s decision on Kossuth Radio’s programme ‘Good morning, Hungary’ on Friday. The Prime Minister stressed that he does not simply want to ward off the crisis, but wants 2021 to be an exceptionally good year for the Hungarian people.

The Prime Minister said so far 42,549 health care workers have been vaccinated, and while initially there were reservations, this seems to be changing now. They also started the vaccination of the residents of elderly care homes, and at the weekend vaccination will continue in all institutions with more than 150 residents. He added that according to the latest data, some 80 per cent of the residents of elderly care homes, while only 50 per cent of care home staff are willing to have themselves vaccinated.

He said he would like to reassure everyone that the vaccines are safe and necessary, and when it is his turn in the vaccination plan, he himself will have himself vaccinated.

So far, vaccines enough for 80,000 people have arrived in the country which is a small number; this is why the Operational Group decided to extend the restrictions in effect, Mr Orbán said, stating that the epidemic is still going strong, and though at this time he believes that it has been curbed, it continues to pose a major risk.

He observed that the method of crisis management in Hungary is different from that of the West where measures are being changed all the time. In order to maintain predictability, Hungary would not like to keep “jerking” the rules, and as long as we do not have enough vaccines, restrictions must remain in force and life must be adjusted to them, he explained, describing the country’s struggle as exemplary at the same time.

The Prime Minister also informed listeners that according to Friday morning data, there are 5,297 coronavirus patients in hospital, including 372 requiring assisted ventilation, the number of newly infected persons is 2,907, and another 115 persons have died.

Regarding the number of coronavirus victims in Hungary, the Prime Minister believes that by international standards health care in Hungary has proved to be more effective than in countries such as Belgium, Italy, Spain, Britain, the United States, the Netherlands, Sweden and France. However, in this context one cannot use the word ‘success’, he added.

He said victory – the vaccine – is well within reach now, but rather than waiting, we must procure supplies; this is why the government has held negotiations with Israel, China and Russia, in addition to companies in the West.

In the EU, the negotiations are being conducted by Brussels, and “we just keep waiting for the vaccine” which is frustrating for everyone, Mr Orbán said, observing that Hungary has ordered vaccines enough to vaccinate 8.5 million people.

At the same time, he congratulated the British, having departed from the EU, who negotiated for themselves as regards the vaccine, “and they’re in a better shape than we are, trying to defend ourselves through Brussels”.

The Prime Minister expects this to lead back to the issue that only those powers should be delegated to Brussels which they can clearly handle better than Member States. A great many more affairs should be handled on a national basis than at present, and some of the powers should be delegated back to the nation states, he pointed out.

Regarding the latest unemployment data, Mr Orbán said compared with the pre-crisis situation, at present, 26,000 fewer people have jobs, this is the number of jobs that have been lost as a result of the crisis – there are few countries like this in the world – and “we will win these back as well”. He stressed that they will not just restore the former number of jobs, but will also increase it.

“I don’t simply want to ward off this crisis; I want 2021 to be an exceptionally good year for the Hungarian people. The first month or two will be a bumpy ride, but after that we will have to start the rocket engines,” he said, highlighting that Hungary should come out of the crisis by overtaking the countries that currently precede it from the viewpoints of competitiveness and performance. He said there is a realistic chance to achieve this.

He also said the main direction is – whilst not underestimating the importance of wage support – to promote investments because investments create jobs.

He highlighted that the government had not abandoned a single one of its overarching plans, including the gradual re-introduction of the 13th monthly pension and housing support programmes, and the many hundreds of investments would also start bearing fruit.

“Hungarian crisis management […] has a very good chance of being regarded at the end of 2021 as well-accomplished and effective,” he said.

Naturally, the extent of its effectiveness does depend on when they will be able to lift restrictions; already in March, April or only in May. Meaning that the vaccine will have a major impact on this year’s economic results as well, he explained.

Regarding the vaccine, he said in summary that “if we only rely on the vaccines coming from the West, we will have to maintain the restrictions for a long while, for several months”. However, if safe and adequately tested vaccines can be found elsewhere, this process could be accelerated, he said.

Concerning the acts of violence that occurred at the Capitol Building, Mr Orbán offered his condolences to family members of the deceased on the one hand, and said on the other that “we don’t like being judged by others, and in consequence, neither do we judge other countries”. “We don’t want to interfere in what’s happening in America at present, this is the American people’s business. We are rooting for them, and sincerely hope that they will solve their own problems successfully,” he stated.

He observed at the same time that the Left tried resorting to violence also in Hungary, “they laid siege to the Parliament Building,” Parliament had to be defended from violent left-wing demonstrators, including opposition politicians with police cordons. There is a party leader who was required to stand trial for throwing a smoke grenade at the police on one of these occasions, he added, indicating that Hungarian police officers did an excellent job.