Prime Minister Orbán began the interview by saying that the war is still raging after nine months, and contrary to the original idea of sanctions putting an end to hostilities in Ukraine, they have seriously affected the EU states enacting them.
He admitted that sanctions might have slowed the Russian advance against Ukraine; however, due to skyrocketing energy prices, Russia’s revenue stream from energy carriers is at an all-time high, resulting in it being able to continue its war effort.
For this reason, in PM Orbán’s opinion, “sanctions have failed to achieve their objective” and “have not brought us a millimeter closer to the end of the war.”
As the EU is working on implementing the ninth sanction package, the prime minister noted that “we have the right to access the oil we need to run our country.” Hungary has therefore petitioned to be exempt from the sanctions on oil imports from Russia.
Reassuringly, PM Orbán added that “Hungary has always protected its national interests (so) we do not have to fear that there will be a shortage of supply.”
According to him, the country and its people understand that the extent of the economic crisis will depend on energy prices and sanctions, with over 1 million people participating in the discussion started by the government via the National Consultation on the effect of Brussels’ sanctions.
He said that there are two opposing approaches in the EU, namely the “pro-war” approach that wants to expand and introduce new sanctions on Russia, and the one propagated by Hungary that wants to cease hostilities as soon as possible and start peace negotiations.
PM Orbán noted that as a re-evaluation of sanctions is due at the end of this year, “we must stop and take stock of the consequences of the sanctions so far.”
This is necessary in his view, as the previous European economic strategy of importing raw materials and energy from Russia in return for advanced European technology and investment has come to an end.
According to PM Orbán, the question is, “What is there instead?” And to that, there is no answer currently.
For this reason, as PM Orbán put it, “we cannot wait for someone to come up with the answer; we must think up and create the future Hungarian economy from our own resources, from our own ideas, from our own wellspring.”
To achieve this, he said, there is the issue of EU funding being suspended, which is an issue Hungary must face.
On this matter, Prime Minister Orbán mentioned that while the EU and Hungary hold differing opinions on “fundamental issues,” after a year and a half of hesitation, the European Commission accepted the Hungarian recovery plan.
Concerning the negotiations, PM Orbán emphasized that while “they want us to let migrants in, want us to let sexual propagandists into schools, and want us to accept sanctions and support the war without any further reservation, we will not do any of that.” However, the prime minister clarified, all other topics are open to negotiation.
He added that thus far, not only the 17 requests of the Commission have been met, but the Hungarian plan was one of the best in Europe, according to them.
Regarding the joint loan scheme to support Ukraine, the prime minister explained that Hungary has a clear stance on the issue, namely that Hungary, in general, does not support any policies financed via joint loans — not just those related to Ukraine.
The solution Hungary proposes is that member states should support Ukraine via bilateral agreements.
PM Orbán was also asked about the global minimum tax to which he replied that “it is a job-killing tax increase." As such, the government will not agree to introduce it, as taxes fall under national jurisdiction.
Amidst all this economic and political turmoil, the prime minister said that the issue of migration is “getting worse” and the situation on the southern border is “dire.”
To mitigate this, the government is already working with Serbia and Austria, helping Serbian authorities to enforce law and order further down south; he added that following the V4 negotiations in Kosice, the other three member states have decided to support these efforts.
Prime Minister Orbán also said that Hungary is in a tough situation, as while it must protect its economic interests, and even develop them if possible, it also has to face “the more hidden, less visible historical challenge” of defending the country against migration.
Summing up his views on the topic, PM Orbán said, “Perhaps less public opinion or public attention is focused on the issue of migration, but we, as decision-makers, must be aware that this is the most important historical issue for Hungary.”