Kicking off his two-day visit to Germany on Monday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán held “fruitful” talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, where the two leaders discussed a series of “difficult and complex issues,” and concluded their meetings with “mutually satisfying” results.
Later that day, Prime Minister Orbán delivered a speech at a Hungary-Germany business forum in Berlin, where he said that Hungary has so far come out of crises stronger than it entered them. During the global economic crisis, he recalled, there was a debate in Europe about whether the crisis was a cyclical or structural crisis. Most European countries saw it as a cyclical crisis, PM Orbán said. However, he never accepted this interpretation, as he saw it as a structural crisis based on the fact that Europe would continue to lose out to Asia in terms of GDP, markets and technological competition unless it changed.
According to him, the right response was deep structural reform, something that Hungary implemented following Fidesz’s 2010 landslide election victory.
In his address at the business forum, Prime Minister Orbán emphasized that an important component of the Hungarian model is the low tax level. Hungary is the only country in the world with a single-level personal income tax, no inheritance tax, and a low corporate tax rate of 9 percent.
He said that political security, energy security and physical security are also needed in the coming period. Political security is guaranteed by the stability of the government, the PM continued; physical security can be ensured by, among other things, Hungary remaining an island of peace, and an important part of energy security is that the country has enough gas reserves for six months.
Addressing German entrepreneurs, PM Orbán said that “those who cooperate with us will benefit.” He added that Hungarian-German economic cooperation is not fundamentally economic but cultural, as there is a "positive prejudice" in Hungary towards Germany.
At a panel discussion organized by the German political magazine Cicero and Berliner Zeitung daily on Tuesday, Prime Minister Orbán said that “Hungary belongs in the peace camp” and would prefer an immediate ceasefire and peace talks. “Hungary has so far lost 300 of its citizens who were enlisted to fight in the war,” PM Orbán noted with regret. He added that it’s also unfortunate that while he embarked on a peace mission in Moscow just before the war erupted, Western European leaders did not feel the urgency to start negotiations.
According to the Hungarian prime minister, “in the war in Ukraine, the ceasefire should not be negotiated between Ukraine and Russia, but between the United States and Russia due to the realities of power.” PM Orbán spoke up against President Joe Biden’s policies vis-á-vis the war and named former President Donald Trump as the person who could “bring back the hope of peace.”
In his closing remarks at the panel discussion, Prime Minister Orbán didn’t mince words about his view of Brussels’ sanctions policy. “Brussels' sanctions policy against Russia is primitive in design and disastrous in effect,” he said, adding that if the sanctions had been properly designed, energy prices would not be "skyrocketing" and European economies would not be threatened with "going bankrupt."