Prime Minister Orbán: The range of products subject to a price freeze may be extended

The prime minister warned that there may not be enough energy for many countries across Europe, but assured that this problem will not apply to Hungary after the government secured multiple contracts to guarantee the country's gas supply.

“Everyone is trying to take advantage of Europe's predicament, and the only solution to high energy prices is to bring as much gas as possible to the continent. In this case, prices will go down,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in his regular Friday morning interview with Kossuth Rádió.

According to the prime minister, everyone was more nervous than usual at the recent European summit of EU heads of state and government, as “tensions are rising at home in every country and can be felt in Brussels meeting rooms as well.”

“Everyone is in trouble, and something needs to be done, but common sense will prevail sooner or later,” Orbán said.

When asked about the looming energy crisis and the answers given by the EU leaders, Orbán noted that while “today Hungary can supply itself with gas, the West cannot” and reiterated that “energy and gas prices in Europe are high today because we have imposed sanctions,” adding that “the realization that sanctions lead to rising energy prices will bring change across Europe.”

While Hungary is in favor of joint EU energy procurement, the prime minister said this should be voluntary and not compulsory. According to Orbán, sanctions are driving up prices, and Hungary could not escape this either because "we are in the same market" as other European countries.

Orbán indicated that sanctions against Russia have not worked as Brussels had expected when they were first introduced. The prime minister said that the situation currently looks as if Europe had dug a hole for the Russians, but had fallen into it itself, and now the EU is telling member states to dig this hole deeper.

The prime minister mentioned that he expects public opinion to shift in favor of a ceasefire and peace negotiations, and predicted that “this voice will grow stronger in all European countries” just as it does in Hungary, where this intent is commonly shared by the population. “This was already the only sensible starting point regarding the conflict” for Hungarians, Orbán added.

The Hungarian leader stated that his administration’s focus currently is inflation with its goal being to reduce inflation to single digits by the end of 2023. He added that in the coming weeks the government will continuously evaluate the situation and decide whether the list of products with centrally regulated price tags should be extended with new items.

Speaking about another protective measure recently initiated by his government, Orbán said that they “took a difficult decision at the last cabinet meeting to protect small and medium-sized businesses from very high interest rates, and instead of their interest rates going up to 20 percent, we are now drawing a line and we are stopping it somewhere between 7.7 and 8 percent.”

The prime minister concluded that while intervening in the complex fabric of the economy is “not a good thing,” there are certain crisis situations when such intervention must be done to avoid bigger trouble, assured that the Hungarian government will “do everything to protect jobs in the first place.”