PM Orbán: We believe in nation states but clearly see Hungary’s future as one within the EU and NATO

Sunday’s election results were the best ever, as no party has ever received so many votes since the fall of communism, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at a press conference in Budapest on Wednesday. The highlights, including some Q&A with reporters.

The prime minister said that they owe their huge election victory to three facts. Firstly, Hungarians wanted peace, and since there was a war going on in the neighborhood, they voted for those who offered the greatest guarantee of peace. The second factor was that Hungary is a successful country; if you take away the politics and look merely at the facts, you will see that the two most successful countries in Europe are Poland and Hungary, he said.

The third reason for Fidesz-KDNP’s huge win was that their opponent had formed a coalition merely for the sake of grabbing power, which is disrespectful to the electorate, PM Orbán said. In contrast, he noted, they represented a program of heart and passion during their campaign.

“I want to confirm that the government's vision for Europe and the future remains unchanged,” the prime minister said. “We believe in nation states,” he said, explaining that “our understanding of the world is that calamities are global, and effective, rapid responses are always national.”

At the same time, we also clearly see Hungary's future as one within the European Union and NATO, the PM said.

In view of this, Hungary will be strengthening its alliances: “We continue to envision our future within the European Union and we want to play an active role in shaping the European Union of the future,” he said, adding that “we are a NATO member state, we will remain a NATO member state, and we want to build a much stronger army, thus strengthening NATO.”

The prime minister highlighted three urgent tasks for the future. The first is to achieve peace, starting with a ceasefire, followed by a European peace conference. He said this must happen as soon as possible because the war is “becoming more and more brutal” and he fears that if a ceasefire is not achieved soon, there will be much more suffering, which will be pushed ever closer to the heart of Europe.

Secondly, families must be protected from the unfolding economic crisis in the European Union. According to the PM, the economic fallout has been mainly triggered by the sanctions imposed on Russia. Thirdly, Hungary will aim to curb increasing energy prices and prevent an energy crisis. To do this, we must suspend the Emissions Trading System (ETS) and the mechanism linking electricity prices to gas prices. Similarly, the requirement to include compulsory biofuels must also be suspended.

Responding to a question from public news service MTVA, Prime Minister Orbán confirmed that he spoke on the phone with Donald Trump yesterday and with President Putin earlier today. The two leaders congratulated him on his election victory. PM Orbán said he suggested to President Putin that along with representatives of the Ukrainian government, they should come to Budapest and hold talks on an immediate ceasefire. According to the PM, Hungary has a very good reason for its firm stance on peace. “In fact, we have more than 200,000 good reasons for this,” he added, referring to Hungarians living in Transcarpathia.

Answering a question from AFP on setting up a new political group in the European Parliament, Prime Minister Orbán said that they will wait for the outcome of the French elections. “We will get to work once those results are out,” the PM said.

A Reuters reporter inquired about Hungary’s Russia policy in light of the country’s high exposure to Russian energy supplies. In his reply, PM Orbán said that in 2009 he understood that Russia would be part of the European security architecture, and it was with this in mind that we developed our Russia policy in 2010. “I don’t know yet exactly how much change the war will bring, but something new is starting here,” PM Orbán said, adding that when they see the new framework, he will sit down with experts in the field and create the Hungarian government’s updated Russia policy.

Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet asked PM Orbán about the conclusions he drew from the failure of the left-wing coalition. “There are two kinds of people — eternal students and eternal teachers. I am an eternal student; I live to learn. Some people do not learn from their mistakes,” PM Orbán said. In his view, PM Orbán hopes that the Hungarian opposition will be able to “get themselves together,” as “it is important to have a voice in a country’s parliament separate from the government’s; we need competition in politics. It would be in the interest of all of us to have sensible and intelligent debates in parliament, and for that, we need an opposition.”

Slamming ATV’s question as to whether Putin asked him to veto EU sanctions on gas and oil supplies, PM Orbán said that “they will never ask me anything because they are Russians; they take note of the reality that we are standing in opposition to each other.”  PM Orbán further reiterated that “Hungary is a member of the EU; Hungary is a member of NATO. We are standing in opposition to the Russians. They know that.”

The prime minister also answered a couple of questions regarding the EU’s rule of law procedure and tying EU funds transfers to the mechanism. According to him, the government still hadn’t received the letter in question from the President of the European Commission but will respond in due course. He said, however, that the decisions of the Commission and the European Parliament are often motivated by left-wing politics.

Responding to a question from Népszava about Ukrainian President Zelenskyy’s recent hostile statements to Hungary, Prime Minister Orbán said that President Zelenskyy has a “bad habit of telling everyone what to do.” According to the PM, “it’s unusual for someone in trouble to ask for your help or demand that you help him, and then, if you don't help him in the way he imagined, he tells you off.”

On Hungary’s relations with Poland and the war’s implications in that regard, Prime Minister Orbán said that while at present the two countries’ security interests lie in different policies, Hungary must do everything to strengthen its cooperation with Poland, as “our goals in the European Union cannot be realized without Poland’s support.”

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