Orbán: We have no responsibilities in this war
March 29. 2022. – 03:31 PM
The Hungarian Prime Minister gave a campaign speech disguised as an interview on Monday evening, addressing the most pressing current issues, especially in light of the parliamentary elections which are to be held this coming Sunday. Translation by Andrea Horváth Kávai
Viktor Orbán gave a campaign speech disguised as an interview to journalist Ottó Gajdics on Monday night at “Hír TV”: according to him, “it would not be helping Ukraine if Hungary was also blown to pieces, or if the pipes bringing Russian gas were closed”, but we should be preparing for a worldwide food shortage as a result of the Russian-Ukrainian war.
Orbán approached the situation from the narrative presented by Putin’s propagandists, saying that “we have nothing to do with it”. Other than the war, he also spoke about the upcoming, so-called “child protection” referendum. In his opinion, the Hungarian people’s stance on the issue cuts across political camps.
The opposition doesn’t know how NATO works
Gajdics, who visibly shared the prime minister’s opinions, started by asking about the Russian-Ukrainian war. Orbán responded by saying that “Hungary’s stance is firm” on the issue:
“The campaign has been good for the discussion about the war – since the main point of a campaign is to sharpen positions, it becomes obvious who thinks what. The national side says that this is a war between Russia and Ukraine, and we are Hungarians. We will help the refugees, but we cannot help by bringing ourselves to ruin”
– said the Prime Minister. “We are for peace: no weapons are to be transported through our territory into Ukraine, and we are not sending any soldiers either”. He further added that in his opinion, the opposition is envisioning a conflict within this war “which is not between two nations, and which we should get involved in”.
He stated that NATO’s position is the same as Hungary’s, and that is that “each member state decides for themselves what they will do, but we will decide together, what our joint course of action will be”.
“The truth is, that there is a lack of knowledge on the left, which we should not criticize, as they have been in opposition for a very long time. They are not aware of how NATO functions, their knowledge about these things is very limited” – explained Orbán. “The other problem is wanting to please the other side – as arguments arise within NATO too. There are those, who – unlike the Hungarian government – would like to shove Hungary into this conflict.
I am not able to reassure the Hungarian public that NATO’s position is unchangeable.
But the European Member States are mostly of the opinion that we should not be getting involved, and so far, the Hungarian camp has always been in the majority” – said the Prime Minister. In his opinion, the war is an important stake in this Sunday’s elections, because if the opposition wins, “the number of NATO members who would go to war will increase”.
“Mentality-wise, this reminds me of my teenage years – he said – and the novels about American Indians, where everyone is always on someone’s side. But this is no adventure novel, this is about real lives, this is about economies collapsing, and we must clearly state that this is Hungary, and we are the Hungarian people.”
In Orbán’s opinion, the Hungarian people are helping those fleeing from Ukraine even beyond their means: “In proportion to the population, we have taken in the most refugees. We are taking care of the equivalent of more than 5 percent of the Hungarian population. (...) And we will do all we can to help every single day, but if we allow Hungary to be blown to pieces, that is not helping, and neither is turning off the pipeline which brings gas from Russia.”
It would be good if Hungary had a sea
Orbán also touched on the geopolitical aspects of the war: “We have no responsibility in this war, because those who started this war did not consult us about it, they did not ask for our opinion.” He continued with the narrative which is extremely popular among Putin’s propagandists, according to which this is an internal Slavic conflict between Russia and Ukraine, one in which we should not have any involvement at all:
“What this war is about is an old story: there is a historical, military, and cultural basis for it, but we will not be part of this debate. We were never part of the discussion about how many countries are Slavic, and it will remain so in the future.”
– stated Orbán. “But there is a clear Hungarian interest in peace which is also in the interest of the Ukrainians and the Russians.” Following this, the Prime Minister added an interesting thought about it being a pity that Hungary doesn’t have direct access to a sea:
“I would be happy if Hungary had stronger foreign relations, if we had a sea, if we had tankers”
– referring to the American suggestion that they would send LNG to Europe via tankers to alleviate the continent’s dependence on Russian energy.
“But all we have is pipes. And if it comes there, we have gas, if it doesn’t, we don’t” – added the prime minister, explaining that this is why we are so dependent on importing energy sources from Russia. He failed to mention the fact that nothing has been done in the past 12 years to reduce the level of this dependency, or the fact that even our most important partners consider this to be the problem in Hungary’s relations with Russia.
According to the Prime Minister, if Hungary were to be cut off from Russian energy resources, “the economy would stop”, which is why he is “steadfastly” fighting within NATO against the sanctions being extended to the energy sector as well. He later added that there is, in fact, a plan for reducing the country’s dependency on Russia:
„We do have a Hungarian answer: in the next decade, we will transform the bulk of Hungarian energy production to make it partly nuclear and partly solar – this is doable within the foreseeable future. We will always need some energy resources from Russia, but our goal is to not be dependent on them.”
In his opinion, the Hungarian people “understand exactly what is at stake, they are able to see through these complex and difficult issues”, and although the campaign must continue in the next six days as well, “it seems that the Hungarian people understand the geopolitical games clearly and crisply, they see through it all”.
A referendum across party lines
Given that because of the war, the two biggest producers of grain in the world, Ukraine and Russia, might drop out of the market, Orbán also brought up the question of the potential food shortage. “All of Europe is facing the issue of food shortage. But allow me to bring up an instructive little story here: when the Russians occupied Crimea, the first sanctions were introduced, and we were not able to export grains to Russia – because they were in need of this at the time.
The example of Crimea teaches us that there is no point to the sanctions, as since then, the Russians have developed their production of cereals further, and today there are among the world’s biggest exporters.”
According to the Prime Minister, “there is a chance” that the two countries will be “left out of the supply chain”: “There will be a food shortage. And because the Arab spring also grew out of an uprising due to hunger, we cannot simply think of Europe: there might be a food shortage in parts of the world that we wouldn’t even think about.”
Orbán said that since the price of grain is going to rise, if Hungarian farmers are offered a good price in the future, “foreigners may siphon grain out of the country”, so we must set up “emergency brake mechanisms” to prevent this from happening. He added that “as a consequence of this war, certain food products might not be available”.
Orbán repeated that “we need composure, and strategic calm”, as the war brings big issues with it, and serious things are at stake here. “One must be decisive, but prudent” – ha said, adding that “whatever the opposition says now, really doesn’t carry much weight”. Following this elegant comment, he added that “one must be able to rise above the daily political debates”.
Then, following the immortal campaign slogan “The tomato is red, and not yellow, Hungary is going ahead, and not back”, he listed all the sins of the opposition and added that this election is not over yet.
“They may analize various surveys, but this election is about the fact that millions of people are leaving, and this has a side which is hidden and cannot be revealed by surveys and whatnot. (...) I encourage everyone to go out and cast their vote, but don’t go alone, go with those who think similarly, and if we all go, the result will be there” – opined Orbán, who also had a few words to say about the so-called “child protection” referendum:
“I have gathered all kinds of good experiences….these are issues which I did not think had gained traction in our country yet – but they have in the West. In Western Europe, this cultural phenomenon is already being destructive. In Western Europe one cannot be sure that a person who is confused about their own identity will not go up to their children in school to explain to them whether they are a boy or a girl. I thought that this had to be explained to the Hungarian people, but then I saw that people are already aware that there is a gender-craze in the West, and that it’s knocking on our door” – said the Prime Minister, adding that “based on recent research, support for the referendum cuts across party lines”:
“Neither the left, nor the right wants our lives to be turned upside down through our children. It is five minutes before twelve, but the ship hasn’t sailed yet. There already are troublesome things happening, but in this situation, I am not only fighting for Hungary.
This cultural war is going on in other Central-European countries too, and those that are like minded are standing to win – said Orbán, adding that there was already a big political debate about this in Lithuania in 2011-2012, for example. If Central-Europe stands firm, a whole European turnaround could occur on this issue.”
At the end of the interview, Orbán concluded by saying that following the elections in 2018 he really didn’t expect to have elections with a serious stake – but because of the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine “the stakes are much higher than I expected”.
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