PM Viktor Orbán: “We cannot be indifferent to war in our neighborhood. Together with our NATO allies, we are on the side of peace"

Hungary is on Hungary’s side in the Russian-Ukrainian war: It helps those in need but also wants to assert and defend its own national interests, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a statement to public media following the EU and NATO summit in Brussels.

PM Orbán said that it is important what type of government Hungary has — one that stands up for its national interests or one that swims in a subservient position to the bigger fish or other countries currently imposing their authority.

We cannot be indifferent to the war in our neighborhood, where there are millions of people suffering and in need. Furthermore, there are Hungarian interests that can always be jeopardized by a war in a neighboring country. “In other words, we are in a dangerous situation, but we are on Hungary’s side and we are looking at this situation from a Hungarian perspective and with a Hungarian head,” Viktor Orbán said.

Hungary did not want to be part of the conflict, he said, adding that it had become evident at the NATO summit that the majority stands behind the Hungarian position, which is why NATO decided not to take part in this war and not to send weapons or soldiers — nor will it impose a no-fly zone. The prime minister added that if there are member states that want to go beyond this and take responsibility for doing something on their own, NATO will not stop them.

Regarding the EU summit talks on economic sanctions, he welcomed the proposal that in order to help Ukraine and achieve peace as soon as possible, it must be made clear to the Russians that this war is not worth continuing. “We are on the side of peace,” he said, adding that it cannot be achieved by applying sanctions that “hurt us more than the Russians.” And if sanctions are extended to energy, the Hungarian economy will come under unbearable pressure.

Hungary has made it clear that extending sanctions to the energy sector is an inappropriate instrument for taking steps towards peace, which must be achieved via other means, essentially, through diplomatic negotiations.

PM Orbán said that Poland and Hungary, which have been criticized in the past, are now being spoken of with “the highest acclaim.” Everyone can see the huge burden that the Polish and Hungarian people are carrying, with two and a half million refugees in Poland and more than 500,000 in Hungary. He praised the work of volunteers, NGOs and religious groups in helping refugees and said that he had urged Brussels to open up funding available to Hungary as soon as possible. In response to this request, Orbán said the Commission had already made the first EUR 300 million (more than HUF 100 billion) available to Hungary more flexibly and quickly than before.

The prime minister said that the Ukrainians’ expectation of NATO intervention is understandable, but “the answer to the question of where Hungary stands is that Hungary is on Hungary’s side.” Orbán said that Hungary, apart from helping all Ukrainians in need, does not want to get involved in this war because it is against Hungarian national interests.

He also underlined that Hungary is a NATO member, and NATO is united and strong. “In fact, it is very strong. Much stronger than Russia,” he said, adding that “together we are stronger than anyone else in the world today” and “there is no greater guarantee of security today.” However, in view of the war, it is now crucial to maintain strategic calm, composure, foresight, and a clear definition of Hungarian interests and to act accordingly.

Speaking about energy prices, the prime minister noted that these had already been rising in recent months, with the war only exacerbating the trend. This is why the Hungarian government has frozen the price of fuel and basic foods and is defending public utility price cuts.

However, national responses will not be sufficient, and a common European response is also needed, he said. One of the reasons that the rise in energy prices is the policy “being pursued in Brussels,” which “deliberately and continuously raises the price of energy,” is because it assumes that if prices go up, people will consume less and we can save the climate. The prime minister therefore called for this policy to be suspended as long as the war continues.

He added that energy from coal, oil and gas should not be penalized because “the question today is not the future of the climate but the future of our families.”