Gulyás: Hungary's security and economy are most important responsibilities amid war in Ukraine

Gergely Gulyás said the government must do everything in its power to protect the scheme to reduce household utility bills and defend family subsidies and pensions.

Gergely Gulyás, Head of the Prime Minister's Office, said the government considers the protection of the country’s security and economy its two most important responsibilities amid the war in Ukraine.

According to MTI, Gulyás said the government must do everything in its power to protect the scheme to reduce household utility bills and defend family subsidies and pensions. The government has made decisions and is submitting a draft budget to parliament that ensures the protection of its achievements of the last several years, he said. Though there is no indication of any direct threats to Hungary because of the war, there is a threat of a humanitarian disaster and the effects of the war on the economy are also severe, Gulyás said. The protracted war and the energy crisis raise the threat of a new global economic crisis, he said, adding, at the same time, that Brussels’s sanctions on Russia were also to blame for the steep price rises. In the current situation, companies that accumulate profits through rising interest rates and higher prices can be expected to contribute to the costs of protecting Hungary, Gulyás said. He noted that the windfall taxes announced by the prime minister on Wednesday will be collected into the utilities protection fund and defence fund set up by the government in order to ensure that the utility bill cuts scheme and defence developments can be financed in the long term. The measures also guarantee that the government can meet its deficit target of 4.9 percent of GDP this year, he added.

Gulyás said the government believed that in terms of “large-scale measures” the windfall taxes would be enough to achieve its goals. He said the taxes gave no reason for businesses to raise prices, arguing that they were taxes on extra profits. The government will take action if it sees the taxes being shifted onto consumers, he added. He said the tax on airlines will come to around 10 euros per departing passenger.

Meanwhile, asked if the state of emergency declared due to the war in Ukraine meant that Hungary will mobilise its troops, Gulyás said the government had already ordered to tighten the defence of the country’s borders. That level of security will be maintained, but the government sees no reason to increase it, for the time being, he said. If necessary, the armed forces and the police are capable of defending the border, he said. In response to another question, Gulyás said the government believed it was highly unlikely that Russia would attack a NATO country, adding that a well-equipped army reduced the chance of that happening even further. “We don’t believe Russia poses a threat to any member state right now,” he said. Gulyás also said the government will decide whether or not to extend the existing price caps by mid-June.

Asked about the oil embargo, Gulyás said that “the government, in general, has reservations about the policy of sanctions” as it has benefitted Russia and the United States and hurt Europe. He added that the government advocates European unity and “the proper manifestations of solidarity” even if there were disagreements on the interpretation of the latter concept. Concerning Hungarian-Polish relations, Gulyás said President Katalin Novák’s recent visit to Warsaw was particularly successful. He added that consultations between the two governments would continue. Hungary and Poland continue to be strategic partners, he said.

Gulyás said that no cases of monkeypox had been reported in Hungary, adding that the special laboratory capacity required for identifying the virus is in place. He noted that the symptoms of the disease are fairly mild and most of the infected recover in a matter of weeks.

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