During his regular Friday morning interview slot, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that “the world will be torn apart by the war and its economic consequences.”
“One of the most important consequences of this war, even if we manage to stay out of it, because I believe that we Hungarians will remain out of this war, is that we cannot completely escape its consequences. One such consequence is inflation. And it is plaguing all of Europe, and now even the Americans. This is war inflation,” PM Orbán said, adding that this is why Hungary just adopted a budget for 2023 that can manage such circumstances.
According to PM Orbán, it is due to war inflation that his government decided that “two funds must be set up: firstly, a national defense fund, so that we can protect the country and upgrade our army and defense forces so they are capable of effective action in the event of trouble, and secondly, a utility cost reduction defense fund, which is synonymous with protecting the living conditions and living standards of families.”
“We will defend what we committed to when we formed the government. We will defend pensions, and we will defend full employment in this budget. It will also protect the family support system and utility cost cuts,” PM Orbán said.
Discussing ways to curb inflation, the prime minister recalled that if it hadn’t been for the price caps on fuel and food, Hungary would have an inflation rate of 15-16 percent, compared to the 10 percent recorded recently.
“The truth is, the situation does not look good because, since this is war inflation, it cannot be contained in Hungary alone,” PM Orbán said. “And the easiest way to bring down war inflation is peace,” he said, adding that “the Hungarian government is almost the only government in all of Europe that does not talk about sanctions and war but that we need peace, and that we should finance peace, not war.”
Responding to a question about the European Commission’s concern with Hungary’s new fuel cap rules that distinguish between prices for Hungarians and non-Hungarians, the prime minister said that while “the whole of the European Union is built on the premise that certain things are uniform and that you can't differentiate on a national basis,” there are cases where exceptions must be made.
“An extraordinary situation calls for extraordinary measures, and in such a case, it is also possible, and I believe obligatory, to depart from the general rules. We could not otherwise protect the interests of the Hungarian people. We are asking the Brussels bureaucrats not to follow a one-size-fits-all logic, but to understand that in countries closer to the war zone, extraordinary measures may be necessary, for example, to differentiate between number plates and vehicles on a national basis,” Prime Minister Orbán said.
On Hungary’s success in standing up for its national security interests regarding oil sanctions, PM Orbán said that, in the end, “common sense prevailed,” as he managed to convince his fellow PMs that a completely different set of rules must be applied to those countries that have no seaports and can only rely on oil transported via pipelines.
“Now with gas, we are again like we were with oil, that there are some of us who care about it, including the Germans, who have announced that it is out of the question. But whether we will end up alone again, or whether some of us will hold out, is something that cannot be known at this stage. I would now like to use a different argument in the gas battle, because it is not just a question of whether Hungary has alternative supply options, but also the fact that we would now be destroying all of Europe,” PM Orbán said.
Concluding his interview with the topic of Hungary’s recently introduced tax on the extra profits of large companies, PM Orbán said that luckily most of these multinational companies share a memory of a similar experience with this government. “In the early 2010s, when we inherited the bankruptcy from the left-wing government of Gyurcsány, we had to put the country in order, and we had to impose, not extra-profit taxes, but crisis-management taxes, on banks, energy companies and so on. And even then, we knew this would hurt everyone in the short term, it would hurt the big companies, but it would fix the Hungarian economy in a year or two, and they would see that they could then make even more profit than they had before. And that is what happened. And that's what I'm telling them now,” Prime Minister Orbán said in closing.