In his speech delivered earlier today at the Hungarian Standing Conference (MÁÉRT), an annual event representing ethnic Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin and all around the world, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán addressed the issues Hungary is facing in the current turbulent political environment.
“It is not an easy role to be the only one in Europe talking about the importance of ceasefires and peace negotiations,” he said. The prime minister added that while it is of utmost importance for Hungary to have peace in its neighborhood, the European Union’s failed sanctions policy has also “caused energy prices to skyrocket, meaning a deficit of €10 billion a year for the Hungarian economy.”
Regarding Hungary’s stance on sanctions, he added that of the €10 billion deficit, €4 billion, or around HUF 1.6 trillion, will come from the budget. That’s money the country cannot spend on social objectives such as wage increases or tax cuts, he said, adding that “from this perspective, Hungary calling for a review of the sanctions policy does not seem excessive.”
On the global stage, the change in “political trends” has shifted up a gear. Like the 2008 economic crisis and 2015 migration crisis before it, the war in Ukraine “is a stage in the transformation of the world’s power dynamics,” a process that is now “much more intense” than before.
Sadly, as PM Orbán noted, the strategic goal of Central Europe to be taken seriously in Europe, rather than being defined by its relationship with larger states, “is today further from reality” than it was when the strategy was laid out at the Hungarian Standing Conference in 2019. And while this goal is still important today, the “dynamics have changed,” he said, mainly referring to the current shift in relations between the V4 countries.
On this matter, Viktor Orbán told the audience that while there is still agreement on the basic goals of the V4, the Ukraine-Russia war has transformed this relationship. It is today more complicated, even though both sides are interested in "Russia not being a threat to the region" and in the existence of a sovereign state between Russia and Central Europe.
The prime minister stood by his 2019 statement that “the key to European security in the future will be the Balkans” and doubled down on his view that the countries there — especially Serbia — must become part of the EU as soon as possible.
PM Orbán said that this is why Hungary is active in building new relations, such as the Serbian-Austrian-Hungarian cooperation. He said that despite the occasional “demeaning commentary,” today “we have more friends and more allies in the international arena than ever before.”