PM Orbán: Hungarian government is the first in Europe to ask people about sanctions against Russia

Without sanctions, the European economy would be reinvigorated and could avoid recession, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at the opening session of parliament.

“We are facing both a local armed conflict and a global economic war because of Western economic sanctions,” PM Orbán said. He added that we should expect a protracted war because Ukraine is being supported by the U.S. and the EU with arms and money, and Russia’s reserves are endless in terms of both men and weapons. “Instead of continuing and deepening the war, we demand an immediate ceasefire and peace talks,” he said.

In an economic war that has gone global, every country has its own interests, and Hungary’s priorities are protecting its security, economy and national sovereignty, the prime minister said.

PM Orbán noted that the drastic increase in energy prices was not the economy’s fault, but that of political decisions taken in Brussels. Russia has not been brought to its knees due to the sanctions: This weapon backfired and Europeans are paying a sanctions surcharge for oil, gas and electricity, while in America the price of gas and electricity is a fraction of European prices. He said that if sanctions were lifted, prices and inflation would immediately be cut in half.

The Hungarian position on sanctions was openly represented in every forum, yet our arguments were ignored, and they were imposed in an undemocratic way, the prime minister explained. He added that before sanctions become “part of our daily lives,” a national consultation will be launched so that Hungarians can express their opinion as to whether they agree with them or not.

In terms of energy supply, the prime minister said that thanks to decisions taken in the summer, there is enough natural gas, electricity and oil. He also cited future measures including bringing the country’s gas consumption, as a percentage of energy used, down from 35 percent to below 30 percent by 2025, increasing its gas production from an annual 1.5 to 2 billion cubic meters, extending the lifetime of Paks, and starting the construction of Paks 2.

Prime Minister Orbán said that the Hungarian government has protected families via six measures amid the crisis: reducing public utility prices up to average consumption, the biggest assistance with energy prices within the EU; maintaining the fuel, food and interest rate caps; and introducing a firewood and brown coal program. To help businesses, he continued, a HUF 200 billion program has been launched for energy-intensive companies, and another program has been announced to save factories; if necessary, a new job protection scheme will be introduced as well.

In addition, PM Orbán noted that the government will not give up its national strategic goals in the next two years amidst the crisis. It will extend the family support scheme; improve transport, R&D and defense; and support universities.

Finally, he said Hungary is in a better state than following the global financial crisis in 2008: Taxes have been cut and 1 million jobs have been created, thus Hungary is stronger today than at any time since the fall of communism. And although sanctions are causing serious damage, there is a chance that Hungary will emerge from this crisis stronger than before.