“Two months have passed since we last met,” Prime Minister Orbán began his parliamentary address this afternoon, explaining that in these two months, war between Russia and Ukraine has continued, new sanctions have been announced in Brussels, and it has become clear that energy prices will not return to pre-war levels.
The price of gas remained three times the pre-war level even after European gas storage facilities were filled, PM Orbán reminded fellow MPs.
Reporting on what the war and Brussels’ misguided sanctions have cost the country, the prime minister said that the year-end financial summary shows that Hungary spent 4 trillion forints more on energy in 2022 than in 2021. “This money was taken out of the pockets of Hungarians by Brussels through sanctions,” he explained, adding that the latest national consultation on Brussels sanctions has ended, with 97 percent of respondents voting “no” on them.
“In these two months, we have also seen the performance of the Hungarian economy in the previous year, in 2022, grow by 4.6 percent,” PM Orbán said, adding that the government has created more jobs than ever before, our export performance has exceeded all previous records, and last year saw the highest level of capital imports into Hungary in more than 20 years.
Meanwhile, both the budget deficit and public debt have been reduced significantly.
Touching on the topic of the war in Ukraine, the prime minister said that “it is bad for the Ukrainians, it is bad for the Russians, it is bad for the Hungarian people, it is bad for Europe, and it is becoming clear that it is bad for the whole world.” According to him, people are dying by the hundreds of thousands, and unimaginable amounts of value are being destroyed. The Hungarian government is seriously concerned that the whole of Europe is being dragged, step by step, into war, he added.
“If this war continues, more and more people will die. If this war continues, the threat of hyperinflation and economic collapse will be permanent. If this war continues, no one in the world will feel safe, and it could easily escalate into a global war,” PM Orbán said. To this end, we need a ceasefire and peace talks. “Hungary is promoting peace in every international forum, and I see that the majority, the vast majority, of the world is also in favor of peace,” Prime Minister Orbán said.
In the PM’s view, we need a clear position from the Hungarian parliament, because every day Hungary is under enormous pressure. “Everyone can see that they want to squeeze us into the war,” he added.
On what he defined as two different approaches to remedying the economic impact of the war, PM Orbán said that “some people wait and some people intervene in the economic process. We are in the second group. We are aware of the risks of intervention but believe we can intervene at the right points and to the optimum depth in the fabric of the economy.”
“We cannot eliminate inflation this year because the causes are not in Hungary. The trouble was unleashed on us by Brussels, with the sanctions on energy sources. This disease is called sanction inflation, and the virus is the Brussels sanctions,” the prime minister stated, adding that his government will break down inflation to single digits by the end of 2023.
In the energy crisis caused by Brussels sanctions, it is essential that we protect Hungarian families from the extra financial burden of skyrocketing energy prices. “We have decided to maintain the system of reduced prices for 2023 up to the level of average consumption,” PM Orbán said, explaining that this means an average of 181,000 forints for each family on a monthly basis.
“This is unique in Europe. It's safe to say that Hungary spends the most on subsidizing families' utility bills through reduced prices in the whole of Europe. This is why Hungary has the lowest gas and electricity prices for households,” he said.
Looking to the future, Prime Minister Orbán stated that in the next decade, Hungary will modernize and rapidly develop its industry. “Our plan is to pursue an economic policy favorable to domestic and foreign investment. In this new industrial policy, we will need much more energy than we have today,” he said.
In order to secure the extra energy for this policy, the Hungarian government made a series of important decisions, including developing green energy, accelerating the construction of the Paks II nuclear plant, reopening natural gas power plants, and signing an agreement with Azerbaijan on new gas supplies.
In light of a recent, wildly disturbing case of child pornography in Hungary, Prime Minister Orbán said that the government has given clear instructions to Hungarian authorities to investigate all such cases.
Staying on the topic of protecting children, PM Orbán said that on April 3 last year, 3.7 million Hungarians said “no” to gender propaganda. “Even if the whole world goes mad, even if Brussels excuses the indefensible, Hungary should remain an island of normalcy in Europe, an island where families can send their children to school safely,” he said.
Speaking up for ethnic Hungarians in Transcarpathia, Prime Minister Orbán said that “it is painful that even in times of war, our compatriots in Transcarpathia are subjected to atrocities in Ukraine, that the right to use the Hungarian language is being trampled upon and that Hungarian school principals are being replaced.” Therefore, he requested the foreign ministry to take action and demand more respect for Hungarians in Transcarpathia.