'We have never been so close to a local war escalating into a world war' – Orbán

March 10. 2023. – 09:28 AM

'We have never been so close to a local war escalating into a world war' – Orbán
Viktor Orbán on Kossuth Rádió – Photo by Vivien Cher Benko / The Prime Minister's Press Office / MTI


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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.

In this week's Friday morning interview on Kossuth Rádió, Viktor Orbán spoke at length about Hungary's approach to the war in Ukraine, the government not intending to “give in to Brussels” on matters of child protection, and repeated his previous promise that inflation in Hungary would definitely be below 10% by December.

On war and peace

According to the Hungarian prime minister, Hungary and the Vatican are the only ones who are pro-peace, other than them, only the Arabs, the Turkic states and the Chinese really want peace in the war in Ukraine.

Commenting on the announcement that the first squadron of Leopard tanks had been sent to Ukraine, Viktor Orbán said that a year ago we all hoped that this armed conflict would not escalate into a real war. "The war is much more brutal and cruel than the way it started". The prime minister said that both sides had lost a hundred thousand people.

"International public opinion is sharply divided. The West is on one side, and the rest on the other: the Turks, the Arabs, the Chinese and the Africans, they are calling for peace talks," he added.

Orbán said these countries are suffering mainly because of food shortage, but Western leaders are burning with war fever.

“The Germans started with sending helmets, now they're on to tanks, and the new topic now is whether they should send fighter jets.”

Orbán said that it could also happen that soldiers allied with Ukraine end up crossing the Ukrainian border.

"We have never been so close to a local war escalating into a world war," he added.

Hungary knows what it’s like

"Hungary has lost territory before, we know what it is like not to be strong enough", Orbán said, explaining that one needed to "keep the gunpowder dry" and that Hungary needed to develop a strong army. He said that everyone should have the ability to know what to do when trouble comes.

"Hungary is not doing so well now, because we did not expect to have a war in Europe again," he added. He said the government wants to revive the knowledge we have, and referred to this as a national defense plan.

"It's important for our Defense Forces to be capable of striking, wearing a cockade on our chest is not enough."

According to the prime minister, the military must be constantly improved, and Hungary must produce a modern army, because the country can only be protected with modern technology. "We are not asking for mercy, we do not want peace because we cannot defend ourselves, but because war is bad and peace is good". Orbán finally concluded by pointing out that the left is pro-war because this is in their interest and they are constantly trying to drag Hungary into the conflict.

The 2024 US presidential election could affect the outcome of the war in Ukraine

In regard to economic issues, the prime minister said that the only way to talk about them is to talk about the outcome of the war in Ukraine. He is reluctant to speculate on this in public, but he considers one thing certain: a huge opportunity has opened up for those who would change the traditional distribution of power. He said that currently, the German-French axis is the leader, but this could change.

Orbán said that

because of the war in Ukraine, the Americans are currently involved in shaping European policy, so we will have to wait and see what the outcome of the 2024 US presidential elections will be. "This could even influence the outcome of the war," he added.

On inflation and the sanctions

The Prime Minister reiterated his previous promise:

“Inflation will go below 10 percent by December”

He said that at this point, the government doesn't yet know the pace at which this target would be achieved, but the necessary measures have been taken and are "widely accepted in Hungary".

On the EU sanctions against Russia – which Orbán said were having an impact on inflation – he said that if they were lifted tomorrow, inflation would be halved almost immediately. The Hungarian prime minister sees the removal of the sanctions as a solution to inflation, but he sees no immediate way for this to be done.

"We have fought ten bloody battles in Hungary's defense, and we have successfully won them," he said of the ten sanctions packages adopted so far and the Hungarian vetoes against them.

We will not give in to Brussels on child protection

When asked about the expected amendment of the Child Protection Act, he said that the "gender issue", i.e. child protection, is an unsolvable conflict with Brussels. The prime minister said that the government would not give in about Hungarian children not receiving education at school to which their parents had not consented.

"We have successfully banned these kinds of trainings from schools, and now Brussels wants to bring them back," Orbán said. He fears that if this gender propaganda is allowed into schools, the number of paedophile cases will increase.

“Parents have a right to expect the government to protect their children, and we will certainly not give in to Brussels.” – he added.

He mentioned that Hungary has several difficult-to-resolve conflicts with the European Commission, including the treatment of migrants. Orbán said Brussels wants to punish Hungary because we are not willing to allow just anyone into the country.

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.