Orbán on inflation and George Soros making money from the war
June 10. 2022. – 10:20 AM
On most Fridays, Hungary’s prime minister gives an interview on one of the state-owned radio stations. Since the independent media has not had a chance to interview him for many years, these weekly radio interviews are the only opportunity to find out what the leader of the country thinks about current events, how he sees his opponents and any issues at hand.
After a five-week break, Viktor Orbán gave an interview at Kossuth Radio this morning. He said he has a good reason for being absent: a government needed to be formed, and that is a highly demanding task.
In the approximately 30-minute interview, he touched on several topics. Below is a summary of the most important points he made.
On inflation and the looming economic crisis brought on by the war in Ukraine
Orbán said that it is likely that the war will go on for quite a while, and 2023 is promising to be a year of uncertainties. The world will be tormented by the war and its economic consequences – this is what the government concluded at their 3-day meeting in Sopron, where they made a plan for next year’s budget as well.
According to the prime minister, one of the most important consequences of the war is inflation, and it is tormenting all of Europe. “This is an inflation caused by war – he said – it is different from inflation in the time of peace. Energy prices are rising partly because of the war, and partly due to the Western sanctions.”
Orbán said that in Sopron, “the government adopted a budget which can handle the inflation caused by the war”, adding that they decided to establish a fund for utility cuts and one for national defense.
He said that according to experts, if it were not for the cuts on food prices, gas prices, and the cuts on utility costs, inflation would be about 15-16% instead of the current 10%.
However, according to Orbán, it is impossible to stop the inflation caused by the war just in Hungary. As long as the European Union continues to finance and extend this war, the inflation will continue to rise. He said that in his opinion, the best way to stop the inflation caused by the war is peace.
“We should be financing peace, not war”
- he said, adding that the Hungarian government is pretty much the only one with this opinion within Europe. Orbán is of the opinion that “if the politics of sanctions is to continue, this will ruin the entire European economy because of the inflation caused by war." In his opinion, Europe should think differently about the Russian-Ukrainian war.
On those who are using the war to make money
“Those agitating for war must be reined in” – Orbán said, adding that it is now abundantly clear that there are business circles with a stake in the war.
"They are symbolized by George Soros. He has spoken openly about the need to prolong the war. These are agitators who want to make money from the war."
On Hungary’s discriminatory gas prices
Orbán’s reaction to EU industry chief Thierry Breton’s call that Hungary should suspend its discriminatory gas prices is that all the Hungarian government is asking of the EU is to accept the fact that
“this is an unprecedented situation requiring unprecedented measures”.
In times of peace it is perfectly normal to expect that everyone pay the exact same price for gas. But at times like these, deviating from the general rules is mandatory.
On the details of the utility price cuts
One of the reasons why the battle about the oil embargo in Brussels was so difficult was because utility costs take up a much larger share of monthly income in Hungary than in Western European countries.
“Utilities are a big issue for us, and this issue must be managed” – the Prime Minister said, adding that in his opinion, the cuts on utility costs have become a synonym for protecting families in Hungary. He also added that the government will “defend” the pensions, full employment, the system for supporting families and the cuts on utilities.
He announced that the government would be issuing a decree about the details of utility cuts today or tomorrow.
On windfall taxes
In Orbán’s opinion, Hungarian families should not be the ones paying the price of war – this is why companies should be carrying this extra weight. His encouragement to the affected companies was that within a few years’ time, the Hungarian economy would be much stronger.
“Other than a few small attempts, the companies will not transfer this on the average citizens” – he said about the windfall taxes. In his opinion, both the people and the companies will get through these difficulties. He thanked the banks and the various companies for paying the extra profit taxes, adding that he would like to extend the cuts on gas costs and the cuts on the price of basic food items, but a final decision about this is yet to be made.
On the oil embargo negotiations
Orbán said that he had to fight this battle alone, but in the end, they managed to achieve the goal and common sense prevailed, there was no need to force anything. In the end, the other leaders realized that a completely different set of rules should be developed for the countries which cannot acquire oil via tanker transport, only through a pipeline. The Prime Minister added that working out a substitute solution instead of the pipeline coming from Russia will take a long time.
On the difference between Hungary and other EU countries
The Prime Minister said that very few countries are in a stable political situation such as the one in Hungary. Orbán said that this is not the season of the left, the government has much more opportunities for acting than normally, due to the broad mandate it received at the elections, and the special authorization granted by the state of danger.
The other European governments are in a difficult position, as they only have a small majority, they are working in coalition and are preparing for elections.
On the war in Ukraine
“Ukraine has the right to defend itself. If a government decides to fight, one must not question their decision, even if their chances are not the best”- Orbán said.
In his opinion, the question is how Europe will react, what kind of proposals it will have for a solution. He added that “the trouble is, that other than us, Hungarians, nobody is speaking the language of peace. We should be speaking the language of peace”.
Viktor Orbán avoids critical questions at home. It’s been years since he gave an interview to independent media. However, for years, every Friday morning he has been a regular guest on state-owned Kossuth Rádió, where he is interviewed by a leading editor of the public broadcasting service (operating from an annual budget of 320 millions of euros). Katalin Nagy has been almost exclusively the only person to be allowed to interview Orbán on the state-owned channel throughout his third term with a two-thirds majority in parliament. She has received the state decoration of the Cross of the Order of Merit of Hungary and doesn’t shy away from asking questions.
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The translation of this article was made possible by our cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation.