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Sep 04, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

PM Orbán: We will ensure the highest possible degree of freedom while maintaining all important, necessary restrictions

In an interview on Kossuth Rádió, dedicated almost exclusively to the defense against the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán spoke about the latest national consultation, the importance of obeying rules and regulations, Brussels’ criticism of Hungary closing its borders, and Central Europe’s place in the new world order.

Beginning his regular Friday morning interview on Kossuth Rádió, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that Hungary stands “armed up to its teeth” in the face of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The difference compared to March, he added, is that we have gained invaluable experience over the last several months, and now we have a national consultation with more than 1.8 million responses.

Referring to the success of the latest national consultation questionnaire, PM Orbán said that “one of the fundamental tenets of our government has always been the saying that one cannot be the smartest on their own.” The success of the defense largely depends on the support of our citizens, he said.

“The responsibility of the youth has increased,” the prime minister said, adding that if young people disobey the rules, they will not “bring trouble on themselves” because they will easily recover. However, “the lives of parents and grandparents are in the hands of the youth,” PM Orbán highlighted.

According to PM Orbán, Hungary has three main tasks ahead. We must protect the lives of our people, ensure the suitable conditions for the school system to function, and revitalize the economy.

“Let’s not forget that our defense against the coronavirus has been the most successful in Europe,” PM Orbán said, reminding listeners that we must not underestimate the value of our experiences and only make “very careful” modifications to the system that has served us well in the past months. Citing Sweden as an example, where nearly ten times as many people have died of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Orbán said that the virus is taking a much bigger toll even in wealthier countries than in Hungary.

On September 1, the Hungarian government reintroduced a policy of border closure in order to put an end to the import of the pandemic from abroad. Following talks with V4 prime ministers, however, Hungary has agreed to make exceptions for tourists from Czechia, Poland and Slovakia who already hold booked trips to Hungary for September. The move came under heavy fire from Brussels, claiming that our policies discriminate against other EU member states.

Responding to the criticism, PM Orbán said that “Brussels bureaucrats have to understand that there is a very close epidemiological cooperation between these four countries.” This is why we introduced a “regulated, normal, well-thought-out system,” one that ensures the “highest possible degree of freedom while keeping all important, necessary restrictions."

“They can say whatever they want, but, with all modesty, we will see them follow our policies in a few days. […] Without implementing the Hungarian practice, they will not stand a chance of stopping the epidemic,” Prime Minister Orbán said.

Toward the end of the radio interview, PM Orbán recalled some of his points from last Saturday’s Bled Strategic Forum. “Europe’s retreat is much faster than it used to be,” he said, explaining that while in 2012 the European Commission predicted that Europe’s share of global GDP would fall to 17-18 percent by 2050, “we have already hit this level.” Meanwhile, in the PM’s view, “Central Europe is in great shape,” and Poland has a good shot at becoming the EU’s “next Germany” in 10 years.