“The idea was to get closer to the end of this war with these sanctions, but the past nine months have shown that this has not been possible,” said Viktor Orbán in the Jó reggelt, Magyarország (Good morning, Hungary!) show on Kossuth radio. The Prime Minister added that rather than bringing us any closer to an end of the war, the sanctions have created huge problems for countries in the European Union. He believes we have a difficult winter ahead of us and Ukraine is in an increasingly tough position, meanwhile Russia is still making plenty of revenue and able to continue waging war.
“On December 5 the oil embargo will come into force which will make it hard for Europe to continue functioning. The sanctions’ ban does not apply to us so we don’t have to worry about shortages; we have a right to get the oil necessary to supply our country. However, we do have a problem with the price – we are waiting to see how the sanctions impact prices,” explained the Prime Minister.
A fundamental question
In regards to the ninth sanctions package, Viktor Orbán explained that after oil sanctions, the Brussels bureaucrats want to restrict nuclear energy and gas – this would have tragic consequences for Hungary. He noted that Hungary managed to exempt itself from the embargos every time so they will continue fighting for this.
But at the same time, we are under constant pressure because, after the ninth sanctions package, there will be a tenth and eleventh, so we must continuously fight to protect our basic values. That is also why we asked the people to strengthen this position through the national consultation
– he pointed out.
“The national consultation deals with a fundamental question because there is no more important issue these days in our daily lives than how much we have to pay for energy for our homes and businesses. So, I am not at all surprised that over one million people have participated in this consultation. I believe the country understands that next years’ economic success depends on energy prices and the sanctions,” stated the PM.
The pro-war camp wants to extend the sanctions because they want to continue the war, but we say that an immediate ceasefire is needed and peace talks will lead to peace
– said the PM. He continued to say that the pro-war parties are demanding more and more sanctions. He also highlighted that after half a year, we must evaluate the success of the sanctions implemented first; up until now this happened automatically but at this point, we must stop and review the consequences of sanctions thus far and initiate a deep debate over their utility.
Developing a new economic model
According to Viktor Orbán, Europeans are currently wandering in the dark woods: up until now, we exported Russia’s raw materials and brought developed technologies there, this was the axis of the European economy.
“This has now come to an end, but Hungary does not think this is a good idea. This economic model is over, Europe has cut itself off from any economic cooperation with Russia. The question is: if we don’t have that, then what are we going to do instead? The EU still hasn’t given an answer to this question,” stated the PM.
“We must take into account that other solutions will be more expensive, we will be paying the sanctions-surcharge. The higher prices of energy spiral and will leave their mark in the manufacturing of all products. The question of what kind of economic model is coming next – well nobody has provided an answer to that yet. There is no way to know how Europe will remain competitive, which will be an enormous challenge for all of us. We are not handling a temporary crisis here, but rather building up a totally new economic model,” added the PM.
The Commission’s requests were fulfilled
In connection with the recovery plan which the European Commission has approved after a year and a half, Viktor Orbán said that we have made major strides. “We are talking now about the plan we prepared in response to the coronavirus pandemic crisis – the plan for spending the money received from the joint loan. Here speed would have been the most important thing – they could have given us these funds in the summer of 2021 – but there are obvious political reasons why that didn’t happen,” he explained.
“Since there are some differences of opinion between the EU and Hungary on some fundamental issues, they don’t really like the Hungarian government. In the previous elections, they wanted a left-wing government; thus, they didn’t give our country any money, rather they started rolling out dollars to the leftist parties so they could win the election. This is how the case of the rolling dollars emerged,” explained Viktor Orbán.
Yet the right-wing won the election so the Commission had nothing left to do but come up with all sorts of conditions; but we wanted results so we were able to come to agreements on all sorts of unagreeable issues. We fulfilled the request of EB 17, in fact we even got to the point where the Hungarian plan was one of the best reviewed in Europe
– underscored the Prime Minister who thanked all those who contributed.
As he said, those who are familiar with EU institutions know perfectly well that they will always be coming up with new ideas and demands. “But despite the continuous added expectations, we must strive to come to an agreement. Of course, there a few fundamental issues with deep lines drawn in the sand. They want us to let in migrants, allow sexual propaganda in schools, accept all sanctions without reservations, and support the war. We will not do any of these things, but anything outside of that we are open to debate,” summarized the PM.
The European Union would become a debtor community
“Rebuilding what was destroyed is not the only cost of this war it turns out – the functioning of the Ukrainian government itself is in trouble. Ukraine cannot fund pensions and cannot maintain infrastructure, so Ukraine turned to the EU for money. We would need to give them 18 billion euros annually just so that the Ukrainian government can continue operating. The EU wants to fund this through our joint loan making itself into a community of debtors. That is not Member States cooperation – this would be a community of debtors that even our grandchildren will be complaining about. We do not support this; several countries are in debt without even supporting the Ukrainians yet. We must split the costs of supporting Ukraine based on weight of the country – this we can support,” he said.
According to Viktor Orbán, the global minimum corporate tax is a job-killer; every country should decide for itself what kind of tax system it implements. That is the point of democracy: voters decide what kind of tax policies they want in their country.
On the topic of whether there are enough funds for protecting families from enormous utilities fees, the Prime Minister said: as of now there isn’t, but they are working to ensure that there will be.
“It seems that the price of energy arriving in Hungary in 2021 was a balance of seven billion, which is how much we paid for the energy our country needed. This rose to 17 billion in 2022 and will rise even further next year. Due to the high prices, we lose roughly four thousand billion forints every year,” he reported. According to him, if this were not a burden, they could use this money for salary increases, pensions, development, and healthcare investments. However, because this money is flying out of the country, we must cover that from our budget.
“We are working hard on this, we have a budget law in force for 2023, but we will have to reform this. The way we see it, if everyone is working hard, then we can manage to avoid a Hungarian recession next year. We are counting on around one and a half percent economic growth and if that is fulfilled, then we can protect utilities price reductions for families.” He also noted that if utilities price reductions were not in place, then families would have to pay 181 thousand forints more per month. “This is exactly why it is essential to put every forint possible into the utilities protection funds,” he stated.
Increasing pressure on the southern border
In connection with illegal migration, the PM said the situation is increasingly dire and the southern border is in a disastrous state. He highlighted that the lives of those living there is becoming increasingly unbearable.
“We cannot protect this border area any better, it is near impossible to handle the conflicts, thus we must push the EU borders even farther south. The solution, the action plan is available: the goal is to march down to the southern border of Serbia, and with their guidance, protect our security together. The good news is that we held the V4 summit in Kosice (Kassa), but the other three V4 states are suffering from the migrant crisis as well. Thus, they offered to help actualize this plan. Discussions on the details are underway, and though everything is about the war these days, from a historical perspective, migration is the biggest challenge,” concluded Viktor Orbán.