Orbán on Putin, the reason for the war, Paks II, and the differences between East and West

March 03. 2022. – 11:36 AM



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Translation: Andrea Horváth Kávai

“If there were a degree one could get in crisis management, we Hungarians would already have four or five” – Viktor Orbán said in a long interview he gave to the pro-government news site, Mandiner.

The head of the Hungarian government was asked how it could have happened that there is a war in a country next door to Hungary. Orbán’s explanation for this was that “NATO has been continuously expanding towards the East, and Russia liked this less and less (...). Since they did not receive the requested security guarantees, the Russians decided to acquire them through a war.”

In his opinion, the Russians are rearranging the continent’s security map. “Their security policy vision is for Russia to be surrounded by a neutral zone in order for them to feel secure. Up until now, Ukraine was seen as an in-between zone, and since they failed to neutralize it through diplomacy, they are now seeking to do so by military force.” – he said. At the same time, Hungary must make it clear that war is never an acceptable means to an end, and “Hungary clearly condemns such an act”. He stressed: “We condemn the Russian attack, because they started a war against Ukraine.”

What kind of person do you know Putin to be?

They asked Orbán what kind of a negotiating partner he knows the Russian president to be. He responded by saying: “So far he has always stuck to what we had agreed on, and we did the same. Until very recently, Hungarian-Russian relations have been balanced and fair.”

As far as the sanctions go, “we are not vetoing things, we will not prevent the EU from introducing sanctions against Russia. At this time, the unity of the EU is the most important.” When asked about Paks II, he said that “there is no argument for cutting off our energy cooperation with Russia. (...) If there is no Paks, then we will have to buy even more Russian gas at even higher prices. If we were to end our energy cooperation with the Russians, then the overhead costs of all Hungarian families would triple within a single month.”

Orbán also confirmed that “we will receive everyone coming from Ukraine”.

He explained that there is a shift of positions at the helm of the world. “As things stand today, China will soon become the most powerful economic and military power in the world. America is in decline, while China is growing stronger. Being a country of just 10 million people, Hungary should maneuver very carefully in this situation.” He added that we already know what the world is like when there is Anglo-Saxon dominance.

What we do not know yet is what the world will be like under Chinese dominance. One thing’s for sure: the Anglo-Saxons need the world to see their position as morally correct. For them it is not enough to accept the reality of power. They also need the world to accept that which they consider to be correct. The Chinese have no such need.”

Regarding the potential EU expansion plans towards the Balkans he said that it is a popular opinion in Western Europe that it would have been better if the EU’s previous expansions had not happened. “When interpreting the weakening of the Western European middle class, their indebtedness and becoming unable to compete economically, they like to blame us, central-Europeans for it. For this reason many instinctively cringe at the thought of further expansion as in their opinion, this would only make their situation worse. Naturally, they have an elegant term for this: “expansion fatigue”, so they don’t have to admit that their position is morally difficult to maintain, and that they are on the wrong side of history.”

In connection with the so-called “child protection” referendum – which is actually anti-gay – Orbán said that he never thought we would get ot this point. “If someone had told me a few years ago that the day would come when I would recommend that we add “The father is male, the mother is female” to the constitution, I am sure I would have smiled. I would have told them that the constitution is not a place for stating biologically evident things. But now I ended up being the one to initiate this.” In his opinion if we don’t address these issues in time, “we will end up in a similar situation as we did with liberal democracy: we will be outmaneuvered.” If we stay quiet, “if we dismiss what’s going on, a social climate will develop in which we will be the ones to get strange looks. A situation could develop in which we, who are protecting the institution of the traditional family, would be presented as the enemies of freedom. We must not get to that point. We have to start defense in time.”

Orbán has “bigger hopes” regarding the upcoming elections than a simple victory. “It is my hope that the communists will not survive being defeated for the fourth time. (...) With another victory, we will be able to enforce a radical transformation of the opposition, which would open a new chapter in Hungarian domestic politics.”

He said that the biggest challenge in the past 12 years has been the management of all the various crises: “the financial crisis, the red sludge disaster, the floods, the war in Crimea, the migration crisis, Covid, the Russian-Ukrainian war. These are our past twelve years. If a degree in crisis management existed, we Hungarians would for sure already have four or five.”

He also spoke about Merkel, as well as about what it’s like when one has German boots on their chest. He was also asked about the new German government and the need for developing the European defense industry.