PM Orbán: This is only the beginning of the crisis

In his Friday morning radio interview, Prime Minister Orbán spoke about Hungary's national security and humanitarian responsibilities in the Ukraine-Russia conflict as well as the economic risks the war poses, stressing that the sooner the war ends, the less damage we will suffer.

“Hungary is a safe haven,” Viktor Orbán emphasized in relation to the humanitarian crisis due to the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Refugees – some 140,000 in the past 8 days – typically come to Hungary from the interior of Ukraine, but Transcarpathians and foreign students studying in Ukraine as well. “This is only the beginning of the crisis,” he said, adding that Transcarpathia is currently not a military area, but if it becomes one, we will have more national security and humanitarian work to do. He also thanked the volunteers for their outstanding work in assisting refugees.

The prime minister noted that 70-80 percent of those who come here move on, but the future of those wishing to stay needs to be organized, namely, their long-term accommodation, their healthcare, their access to work, and their children’s education.

Viktor Orbán had earlier drawn attention to the need for a peaceful solution to the conflict because everyone knew that a war would put neighboring countries in a difficult situation. We knew there would be a large influx of refugees, which would put a strain on the budget, sanctions would be imposed, and a price would have to be paid, he said, calling for the development of a V4 refugee policy.

The prime minister underlined that NATO will only protect us if we are prepared to defend ourselves, which is why Hungary launched a military build-up a few years ago. The move was debated by many, but “we must be rock-solid here,” because if the country does not start preparing for such a conflict in time, the years lost cannot be made up for later. In this context, he also described the rearmament of Germany as of great importance.

Discussing the economic consequences of the war, Viktor Orbán said that the protection of the economy will be planned in due course; however, the immediate risk is that the West has decided on sanctions, which means a price will have to be paid in the short term. He warned of the rise of energy prices as a result of sanctions, reiterating that public utility price cuts must be protected. The risk of high inflation has also increased by orders of magnitude, and the government is working with the central bank to find ways to manage this, he added. The prime minister regards the fact that the performance of the European economy as a whole will be lower as a medium-term risk, stressing that the sooner the war ends, the less damage we will suffer.

PM Orbán highlighted that the opposition is making extremely irresponsible statements suggesting that they are pro-war, whereas in this conflict, the peace and security of Hungarians are of utmost importance. An arms shipment through the Hungarian-Ukrainian border would turn Transcarpathia into a military target, and it is therefore irresponsible “to seek to please our Western friends by making such statements,” he added.

Finally, switching to the subject of the mitigation of the government's pandemic measures, he said “we have beaten the coronavirus for the fifth time,” and we can now waive certain restrictions including the obligation to wear a mask.