Orbán: The EU funds owed us may have been given to Ukraine instead

July 28. 2023. – 10:20 AM



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Most Friday mornings, Hungary’s Prime Minister gives an interview on one of the public 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.

At the beginning of his Friday morning interview at Kossuth Rádió, Viktor Orbán responded to recent criticism he received from abroad. He said that he had had a meeting with the Romanian Prime Minister and was keen to develop a good relationship with him. The new prime minister is a young, agile leader and he has high hopes that they can accomplish serious things together.

As for Slovakia, it’s a more difficult issue than Romania because there will soon be elections and there is one issue on which there will be no agreement, and that is the matter of the successor state. "If we allow this issue into Hungarian-Slovak relations", there will be problems. Otherwise, he sees great potential in Slovak-Hungarian relations, and as far as the Czechs are concerned, they are arguing amongst each other, so we have nothing to do about that.

Multinational companies are acting like speculators

We have to be vigilant, because the multinationals are playing with prices. They are raising prices even when there is no reason to do so, they are just taking advantage of the fact that energy prices are high, so they blame it on that. At the same time, they go to Brussels to complain about the Hungarian government and collude with them", the Prime Minister explained. "We have already imposed HUF 3 billion forints in fines because we will not tolerate any sort of carteling." The authorities are smacking them where needed, and they should, Orbán said, adding that it is outrageous that there should be unjustified price increases on food.

This is no longer Ukraine's war, their sovereignty is over

This war is no longer the Ukrainians' war, even though they are the ones who are suffering from it, the prime minister said, adding that he believes Ukraine's sovereignty has effectively ceased. Any country that cannot support itself is not sovereign, he said, and war is expensive. “The Ukrainians have run out of strength, the only thing keeping Ukraine alive is Western money.”

According to Orbán, two questions remain: how the US president decides to approach the presidential elections due in 2024. We have no control over that, nor can we answer the question. The other question is how long Europe can hold out. “The Americans can pull out a lot of money with all sorts of financial manipulations, but the euro is a different story, it's not suited for that. We cannot come up with money as easily as the Americans do. They can collect money from the member states.”

Brussels owes us money, but where is it?

And then the European Commission comes along and says, halfway through the EU's seven-year budget period, that the member states should give €100 billion, "All this, while the EU is unable to meet its obligations to its member states. This is the situation with Hungary too. The EU owes us. Membership in the EU comes with an obligation to pay, and we have paid our share. But they aren't giving us the money that is due," he explained.

Orbán said that, among other things, the EU owes Hungary a lot of money for the border protection, and they also owe the teachers, since they promised to help resolve the matter of the teachers' salaries faster. "It's not without reason that we are wondering whether they owe us money because what they owe us has been spent on something else, say Ukraine. And that question remains unanswered today," he said.

On whether this means that until the expected money arrives, Hungary will not agree to the modifying of the EU budget, Orbán said that it would be a rather unfriendly sentence, adding that there is a clever rule in the EU which states that member states are expected to loyally cooperate. Which means that it isn't appropriate to link unrelated issues together, it shouldn't be done. We have to be careful about what we are willing to do under certain conditions, because it's not nice, it's not appropriate to connect things that way, and whoever does so is treading on the very edge of legality.

"It does happen though, that things happen to coincide, as was the case last time, when decisions requiring unanimity coincided with decisions on money for Hungary. Well, if that is how the negotiations go, then of course the coincidence will have to be dealt with," he noted.

Orbán said that when Russia attacked Ukraine, the West had two options. One was to try to localise the conflict, as in the case of Crimea, and to argue that it's a conflict between two countries, and if we are not careful it could turn into a world war. That's what Merkel did. But if we get involved, it could bring the conflict to a global level," he said.

The Prime Minister said that the Russian-Ukrainian war is now impacting the global economy. "We had finally gotten our act together, we were finally competitive. This is also true for other countries. And then a war like this comes along and descends upon the entire global economy", which leads to a series of changes. As a result, when it comes to the global economy, the approach has become that it may not be good for everybody to be in free contact with everyone else, and there's a kind of isolationism, a kind of ghettoisation developing. What we are seeing now, according to Orbán, is a series of consequences to a misguided treatment at the very beginning.

The last issue to be raised was migration. Orbán said he was not in favour of playing the game. He said that those who let migrants in wouldn't know the people who are coming, they wouldn't be able to choose who they are letting in, and would sooner or later lose control and feel like an indigenous minority in their own country. In his view, letting migrants in can destroy a country. "We neither want a migrant quota, nor migrant ghettos. And if we don’t want them, then that’s how it will be" the Hungarian Prime Minister concluded.

Viktor Orbán avoids critical questions at home. It’s been years since he gave an interview to independent media. However, for several years, most Friday mornings he has been a regular guest on state-owned Kossuth Rádió, where he is interviewed by a lead editor of the public broadcasting service (operating from an annual budget of 320 million 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.