In his regular Friday morning interview on Kossuth Rádió, the prime minister began with the EU summit held yesterday, saying that while the Hungarian culture and language gets to the heart of a problem and finds a solution quickly, Brussels culture is more like the French.
“You cannot start with the problem that needs solving. First, the Union and the country must be praised, and only then can you talk about the issue at hand,” PM Orbán said, adding that it seems impossible to simply say, in a perhaps crude albeit straightforward Hungarian way, that more people have now been vaccinated in Britain, Israel and Russia than in the European Union. At what point, the PM continued, “Should we not face the facts?"
The prime minister also added that, on behalf of the Visegrad countries, the Polish Prime Minister had come out and blamed the EU for the slow pace of the approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine. “Hungarians need the vaccine, not an explanation," he commented, adding that “Hungarians are not going to die because Brussels is slow in purchasing the vaccine. We need the vaccine because that means life.”
PM Orbán emphasized he does not want to argue with Brussels, as that would be all about politics and politics is now beside the point — lives are at stake. “After the epidemic, there will be time for Member States to examine whether or not it was a good decision to entrust the procurement of the vaccine to Brussels,” Viktor Orbán said.
“Regarding the Russian vaccine, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó flew to Moscow today, and China will start sending vaccines as well if it receives the required emergency license in Hungary,” he said, pointing out that “restrictions cannot be lifted until mass vaccination begins.”
Touching upon the economic recovery, PM Orbán said, “It is possible to think about life returning to normal if healthcare workers, nursing home residents, the chronically ill, protection service workers, and the elderly are all vaccinated. But this depends on the vaccine; if we have a vaccine, we can achieve this quickly.”
The PM additionally said, “I want a quick economic recovery after the epidemic, and we are working on this. Jobs need to be protected, which can happen when businesses are strong. This has required both banks and municipalities to release claims.” He further pointed out that “4,000 more people were working in December than one year ago, before the pandemic, which is a fantastic achievement.”
Viktor Orbán also drew attention to the fact that unlike left-wing governments who believed money should be taken from the people to acquire banks and companies, “we are not focusing on raising taxes, but on raising wages. In times of crisis, we are launching the biggest home-building subsidy ever, raising wages for doctors, and introducing tax breaks for the young.”
Finally, talking about the so-called vaccine passport, the prime minister said that “the government is working on whether or not there is a need for a card indicating that someone has already been infected or been vaccinated so that they receive more freedoms. If we reach one million people vaccinated, this debate will be important,” he said, adding that “there is a serious debate in the EU about a possible vaccine passport for border crossings, but there are no concrete answers yet.”
Photo credit: hirado.hu