Orbán: This is a new era of European history

July 15. 2022. – 09:37 AM


Orbán: This is a new era of European history
Viktor Orbán at the studio of Kossuth Radió, before giving an interview on 15 July 2022 – Photo: Vivien Cher Benko / Prime Minister's Press Office / MTI


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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.

This morning, the Prime Minister of Hungary gave his more or less regular Friday morning interview at Kossuth Radió. Below is a summary of the most important points he made.

On Europe the war in Ukraine

“The prices in Europe are wartime prices. On 24 February, nobody would have thought that an era would be ending, and that a new era of European history would begin: the time of war” – Orbán began the interview, adding that we must keep our head in the game to make sure that the armed conflict doesn’t spread to Hungary.

Orbán also said that it is difficult to be smart about this war, but it is definitely not good for Hungary. He added that China – for example – is benefiting from the war, as they need to import oil, which they receive from Russia. He added that while China is a beneficiary of the war, and the USA is not losing anything, Europe stands to lose much.

Orbán understands that everybody wants to help Ukraine, but he has always said that sanctions will not help the country. "And if it goes on like this, they will do away with the European economy. The moment of truth has to come," the prime minister said". In his opinion the policy of sanctions has to be changed, "we have to sit down with the Russians, we have to make peace", and only then can we have a result.

Warmongering businessmen: guess who?

Orbán then said that at the same time, there are certain businessmen who are profiteering from it. “Here, one should think of businessmen like George Soros, for example. They are arguing for keeping the war going and are mobilising their network. The analysts and journalists on their payroll keep making the case for the war being just and for its continuation. But the likes of George Soros are nothing but simple warmongers” – he said.

Hungarian military to be developed

We are avoiding the word mobilisation, because nobody is talking about calling civilians into the army, but the army must be mobilised internally, Orbán said. New resources are needed, and the army must be developed. Orbán said he would be signing a decree in the next few days to grant new resources to the army, because alongside NATO soldiers on our eastern border "we should also be present".

On the state of the European economy

According to Orbán, there are countries that are in favour of a policy of sanctions, but he believes that this has not fulfilled their hopes, and has even had the opposite effect, having backfired on the countries that imposed them.The Prime Minister believes that the most important thing now is for Brussels to rethink these.

"At first I thought we had shot ourselves in the foot, but the European economy has actually shot itself in the lungs and is gasping for breath," Orbán said. He said there will be countries which will have no gas, but Hungary is in the category where there will be gas, but it will be very expensive.

On declaring an economic state of danger

Orbán then spoke about why they declared the state of danger due to the energy crisis, and then listed the seven points of the government's strategy. According to Orbán, they had to touch the utility cuts precisely because they are trying to save this policy. “With great respect, I am asking the families whose consumption is above the average to understand that they simply have to pay a higher price for the difference, because otherwise the utility cuts would be abolished altogether.”

He added that before the war it was possible for everyone to be included in the utility cost cuts, but with the war going on, this is no longer possible, and he would be glad if everyone could accept this.

Orbán said that we now have to fight for everything we used to take for granted. There will be two big battles: for energy, for a budget to live on, for affordable utility bills, but there will also be a fight for jobs. Orbán says the European economy is entering recession, it is "shrinking", and its performance is declining. So he is advising everyone who has a job to value it and do everything in their power to keep it.

On this week’s tax increase protests

Orbán – along with the presenter – linked the protests against the modified taxation law to the opposition, whom the Prime Minister compared to "voles in water". Orbán said the opposition is trying to exploit this for political gain and said: "I understand this, but I think it's very bad politics".

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.