PM Orbán: We need an immediate ceasefire and peace negotiations, not sanctions

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told Kossuth Radio's program “Good Morning, Hungary” that everyone sides with the country attacked, but this is not Hungary's war, and we must stay out of this conflict. The war zone could end up closer to Hungary much more quickly than anyone thinks possible, which is why Hungary must increase the speed of its military development by two to three times, the prime minister said. He also spoke about creating new “border hunter” units to counter rising migration pressure.

The worsening war situation in Ukraine, inflation, a war crisis knocking at the door, and the ongoing energy crisis all create the backdrop against which Europe's leaders must work today, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at the start of his morning interview. He took the opportunity to report on last week's EU summit, which decided on Ukraine's EU candidate status.

Becoming a member of the EU is a complicated process, consisting of three to four stages countries must get through. In order for negotiations to begin, the countries concerned must also meet various expectations, including Hungarian expectations related to the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia, the prime minister said.

According to PM Orbán, Hungary was not able to get Bosnia and Herzegovina included on the list of candidate countries. He said that there was still a lack of understanding among Western leaders about the enlargement of the Balkans and the need for Western Balkan integration for all of Europe.

He additionally said that negotiating another sanctions package at the summit was off the table, as a gas embargo would have even more serious consequences for Hungary than an oil embargo.

The NATO summit was more difficult than the EU summit, the prime minister said, adding that we must slowly face reality. He said that everyone is on the side of the Ukrainians, of course, because the public perception — shared by Hungary — is that the Russians had no reason to start an open war. But since this is a war in which tens of thousands of people are dying, we do not want to get involved in it, he added.

This is a war between two neighboring Slavic countries, and NATO is a defense alliance, PM Orbán said.

In the prime minister’s view, weapons are important in a war, but soldiers are the most important factor, and soldiers are in short supply. He believes that Ukraine is fighting hard, but military realities are slowly taking hold. What would happen if the Ukrainian front collapsed had not been a question raised at the summit, but Ukraine's heavy losses had been much discussed.

“I came home with alarm bells continuously ringing in my head," PM Orbán said. The war zone could be moving closer to Hungary much faster than anyone thinks, which is why Hungary must increase the pace of development of its military forces by two to three times, he said.

NATO also senses trouble, he said, adding that the decision was made to strengthen the eastern wing of the alliance.

The prime minister noted that we want to help the war effort in Ukraine, and although we have never been in favor of a sanctions policy, in certain cases, we have prioritized EU unity. “In areas where the situation is not vital for Hungary, our country will concede, but we will not concede on life-and-death issues,” PM Orbán stressed.

He further said that there was a misunderstanding about the concept of a veto because in the EU, decisions are taken unanimously. The prime minister said that what is happening in Ukraine is terrible, which is why we must be on the side of peace and peace is the only way to end war inflation.

Hungary and all countries have an interest in peace, the prime minister said, adding that now is the time to defend our achievements — pensions, cuts in rationing, family allowances — and not let the war drag us back down.

Prime Minister Orbán said that it is unprecedented that Hungary must also, at the same time, face migration pressure from the south and the east. Both migrants and Ukrainian refugees will eventually go to the West. The EU should be expected to recognize this special situation and help financially, he said.

“This year, 750 human traffickers have been caught, compared to only 400 last year. The impacts of the war are causing more and more people to leave their countries," he added.

PM Orbán said that migration pressure will continue to increase and that a new force is needed to handle this. Since Hungary will be withdrawing soldiers from the border to strengthen its army, new “border hunter” units are needed. The time has thus come to organize these special units under the Ministry of the Interior, he concluded.