“We cannot wait for Brussels to procure the vaccines because they are slow to deliver,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said earlier today at a joint press conference with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš. The PM said that “the fast ones [in procuring vaccines] save lives while the slow ones lose them.”
According to Prime Minister Orbán, he has shared Hungary’s experiences in terms of getting the coronavirus vaccine from Russia and China with his Czech counterpart. “We want to learn from each other, we want to learn how to make vaccine procurement even faster,” PM Orbán said at the press conference, noting that Serbia has already been employing the Chinese and Russian vaccines.
Regarding the virus situation in Hungary, the prime minister emphasized that “Hungarians observe coronavirus restrictions at a high rate, even compared to other European countries.” He also noted that these restrictions were introduced as a result of a wide-scale national consultation campaign last fall. When it comes to lifting these restrictions, the PM added, the government will follow the same playbook, as an online national consultation on the reopening is scheduled to take place between mid-February and early March.
Speaking about the impact of the pandemic on the economies of the Visegrád Group, Prime Minister Orbán said that the V4 will emerge from the crisis with “great hope” and predicted that the region will be able to bounce back from the economic setbacks even faster than before.
Getting to bilateral relations between Hungary and Czechia, Prime Minister Orbán said that “Czechia is highly regarded in Hungary, and everybody knows that Andrej Babiš has been the best finance minister in Europe to date.” The Hungarian prime minister then called attention to the fact that in terms reducing unemployment, Czechia is the top performer in Europe, followed by Germany and Hungary. Meanwhile, the PM added, “the number of Czech citizens has grown by more than half a million in the last 20-30 years.”
In response to a question, Prime Minister Orbán said that now is not the time to debate whether we could have procured vaccines faster or more efficiently within the framework of the European Union; we simply need to get the shots as quickly as possible. “It is not worth it to politicize the question of the vaccine or the defense against the coronavirus,” PM Orbán said, adding that any delay in the vaccination process could lead to the death of hundreds or even thousands.
“The coronavirus vaccine is not a political but a security question – therefore, the source of the vaccine should not be turned into a political question,” Czech PM Andrej Babiš said.