PM Orbán at farmers’ congress: The most important thing is to keep Hungary out of this war

The most important thing is for Hungary to stay out of the war, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Saturday at the congress of the Hungarian Association of Farmers' Groups and Cooperatives (MAGOSZ) and the National Chamber of Agriculture (NAK).

"We condemn the war, especially that it is here in our neighborhood; we say no to violence, we stand together with our allies, and all this is important, but the most important thing is that Hungary should stay out of this war conflict," PM Orbán said.

He added that every war can be examined from many different perspectives, and it is worthwhile to do so, but before decisions are taken, only one perspective is possible. According to the prime minister, his government "has not missed a step" in recent days and will not miss a step in the coming weeks, because they will be able to remain calm in the most difficult moments. “We will not exchange our perspective on the war for any other foreign approach advised from abroad," he said.

The prime minister said it was important that the government take decisions now and in the coming months to prevent "the price of war being paid by Hungarians.”

PM Orbán pointed out that Hungary had built an open system of trade and investment relations, but that this was now being hampered by the war. Therefore, the whole Hungarian foreign trade strategy needs to be adapted to the current situation, he said, which the government will do in the coming days.

“We are not only interested in peace as soon as possible and in regaining part of our markets, which have been shrunk by the war, with our hearts but also with our pockets,” Prime Minister Orbán said.

On the issue of sanctions, he said that the current sanctions are different from the previous ones and "this will hurt us too.” The most important task, the PM continued, was to ensure that the energy sector is left out of the sanctions policy. He said that expensive energy was already causing problems, but worse than that, if there was no energy, then the economy or a certain segment of it would grind to a halt.

“While Hungarian agricultural and food exports to Russia and Ukraine together account for less than 5 percent of agricultural exports, which means that exposure in this area is manageable, the issue of imports is more difficult,” PM Orbán said, adding that Russia accounts for 7 percent of raw material imports and Ukraine for 8.4 percent.

He also spoke about the impact of the rise in energy prices on the price of goods and raw materials coming from abroad, but also the need to be alert to exchange rate changes. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, central European currencies have been "decimated," and the country can only partially escape the impact of this.

Switching the topic of his speech to the upcoming national elections, PM Orbán said that, although the election is a challenge, it will be a special election because of the war in the neighborhood. The government will have to devote most of its resources to countering the adverse effects of the war

On the cooperation with the Chamber of Agriculture and MAGOSZ, he stressed that it had to be formalized because when the left wing returned to government in 2002, the Hungarian countryside paid the biggest price. Therefore, he said, it was in the fundamental interest of agriculture to keep the left wing out of Hungarian agricultural policy.

He said that while between 2004 and 2010, agricultural output fell by 20 percent and the food industry by 16 percent, between 2010 and 2020 it increased by 29 percent and the value added per hectare increased by 45 percent.

The profitability of agriculture more than doubled between 2010 and 2021, the best result in the EU, and while 40 billion forints were available for the purchase of new machinery in 2010, this figure was 256 billion in 2020, the prime minister said. He added that agricultural exports had increased by more than 10 percent in 2021 compared to 2020.

Speaking about the future, PM Orbán stressed that the country belongs to those who own the land, and therefore the land must be in Hungarian hands. "In Hungary, Hungarian land is in Hungarian hands,” PM Orbán concluded.