Orbán on the Erasmus-case: Brussels is trying to take revenge on Hungarian youth

January 13. 2023. – 08:55 AM



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Most Friday mornings, 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 several 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 is a summary of the most important points from this week's interview.

This Friday, Viktor Orbán began by saying that "it may become clear in a few years' time that 2022 was the year in which we Europeans entered an era of danger": first there was the Covid-epidemic, then came the war in Ukraine, then "the war-sanctions", and the migration crisis, which is still here.

Orbán said that the first thing that needs to be clarified is the Hungarian attitude to the threats: do we curl up like a hedgehog and defend ourselves? This is a dangerous strategy, he said, because it paralyzes you, and that's a big mistake in politics. He sees some politicians in Europe who are becoming paralyzed in exactly this way. Meanwhile, Hungary has actively responded to all threats, because "we don't give up", and at the same time "we are setting up our line of defense", such is the utility cost protection fund (a fund into which the windfall taxes imposed on certain economic actors are being paid into) Orbán said, adding that "we did not allow millions of families to go bankrupt". He concluded the subject by saying that he already knows that there will be new threats in 2023 on top of the existing ones.

There are few who are brave, but he is one of them

He also spoke about the EU sanctions imposed on Russia because of the war, which he voted for each time. He said it was time for "someone brave enough, with big biceps and broad shoulders, to come along and say we've messed up" and lift the sanctions, because if this were done, prices would come down and inflation would at least be halved. All this would take is a simple political decision in Brussels, but at this time, he doesn't see such a broad-shouldered man.

Then the PM went on to add that he does see some courage in a few places, for example "we, Hungarians are here, and I personally am here too". However, he alone is not enough to make a difference, as he cannot change the decisions of the great powers alone, he said and then added: "but I can do one thing: contain the damage".

He believes that Western governments are not able to collect the money that the Hungarian government is collecting as extra profit taxes in Hungary. Then Orbán summed it all up by saying that "the only, or at least the biggest, loser of the war is Europe".

Brussels’ revenge on Hungarian youth

He also spoke about the issue with the Erasmus program. According to Orbán, "we will not allow students to be the victims of any decision by Brussels", as it is in Hungary's national interest for young people to study abroad and see other countries, and to then bring their knowledge home.

"What a strange thing it is for Brussels to want to take revenge on young Hungarians," Orbán said, and added that if they are unable to reach an agreement, the Hungarian budget will pay for the programme.

Different visions of the future

Orbán said that Brussels' vision of the future is different from that of the Hungarians: let the migrants come, let's be colorful, but "we don't want to live with migrants at all, we are defending ourselves against it". Then there's the matter of LGBTQ, but "the hairs on the back of our necks stand up" when people from this group talk "nonsense" to children in schools.

Orbán said that Brussels wanted a change of government in Hungary in 2022, which didn't happen, and since then, "they are trying to force us to do what they think is right, regardless of the election results. We interpret everything in this context".

The era of dangers and the rooster

In regards to money, Orbán said that "our financial reserves are at an all-time high: partly because of the extra profit taxes (which are being paid into a fund to cover utility price caps, and partly because we are prepared for the era of dangers". According to Orbán, "not only is it impossible to corner Hungary, but we can manage perfectly well on our own", adding that

Brussels is now facing the fact that the sun will rise and the rooster will crow here in Hungary without them as well.

Viktor Orbán avoids critical questions at home. It’s been years since he gave an interview to independent media. However, for years, most Friday mornings 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 allowed to interview Orbán on the state-owned channel throughout his third and fourth 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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