PM Orbán: Europe’s economy is a casualty of war

The prime minister said the more stable the Hungarian government was and the clearer people’s opinion on war and peace and support of peace was, the greater chance he had to keep the country out of the war.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview with the Patrióta YouTube channel that European Union countries had so far poured around 100 billion euros into the Russia-Ukraine conflict, as had the United States, adding that Europe’s lost economic growth, which he said “has probably cost a couple hundred billion more”, could also be counted among the “casualties” of the war. PM Orbán said though the people did not know it, they too were paying for the war, arguing that prices in shops “aren’t like they are in peacetime”.

“Not to mention that the number of casualties in the Russia-Ukraine war is already between 500,000 and 1 million,” PM Orbán said. “And that’s with just two Slavic countries at war, but not Europe.” The prime minister said he regularly asked the question as to how many more weapons and how much more money it would take to push the Russians out of Ukraine, but that the only answer he was getting was that “Putin can’t be allowed to win”. Europe, he said, was drifting into a war without there even being estimates regarding the amount of money and equipment that would be needed for it to reach its military objective, adding that he had “never seen anything more irresponsible”.

PM Orbán noted that around 57 million people died in the first and second world wars, with Hungary, too, suffering a death toll of more than 1.5 million. “If they could’ve lived normal family lives, Hungary today wouldn’t have demographic problems, and neither would Europe, and there wouldn’t be any room left for migration,” the prime minister said. “These are things we lost with the war,” he said, adding that every European war “is also a European civil war where we’re killing each other”. Therefore every European leader’s first reflex in any war should be to prevent an escalation, and all armed conflicts should be deemed a failure, he said.

Concerning the topic of mandatory military service which is gaining traction in Western Europe, PM Orbán said that after peace had been established in Europe, “we all thought this wasn’t necessary”. “It would be good to stick with the current situation and let a professional army handle things, and there is some fundamental knowledge that can be passed on to young people even without military service,” he added. “We don’t want someone else to decide on the deployment of our military-age youth,” the prime minister said, adding, however, that Manfred Weber, the head of the European People’s Party “is talking about this and a pan-European military to which conscription would be mandatory”. “That’s something we’re not going to do. Forget it. That’s one of the crazy ideas,” PM Orbán said.

The prime minister said the more stable the Hungarian government was and the clearer people’s opinion on war and peace and support of peace was, the greater chance he had to keep the country out of the war. He said the “case of NATO” was more difficult, arguing that the government had a “good understanding of the European Union’s efforts to push us into the war”, but NATO was a defence alliance that now wanted to start down on the path of becoming a party to the war. “So we must also continue to stand for peace in NATO and prevent them from forcing us into the war, regardless of the military arguments they’d use; this is something we must stay out of in the end,” PM Orbán said. He said there were some who argued in the opposite direction, adding that though those arguments may not be illogical, they posed such a grave risk to Hungary “that could be measured in tens and hundreds of thousands of lost young people”. He said Hungary therefore had to do everything it could to stay out of the conflict.

On the topic of global economic competition, the prime minister said that competitors that dropped out found themselves at a disadvantage, and Europe was in this situation now. The Americans could easily sell their excess oil and gas, having prohibited the Europeans from buying from the Russians, he added. Meanwhile, the Russians, he said, had developed the techniques for moving gas around the world by tankers and via LNG terminals. And the Chinese saw that the changing balance of power was playing into their hands, PM Orbán said.