Concerning the upgrade of Hungary’s Paks nuclear plant, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that Hungary had a general objection against European sanctions against Russia, but “since unity within the EU is important, Hungary approves such measures unless they do not impact vital Hungarian interests”.
The prime minister said current plans for EU sanctions “affect no component of nuclear energy”, therefore the Paks project “could continue under the agreements made earlier”. The project, he added, had “suffered many attacks” without which the upgraded plant could have been operational by 2023 and “Hungary could take the current energy crisis more easily”. On the subject of Hungary-Poland relations, PM Orbán said that some issues such as around an aviation ban or extending sanctions to energy might make those ties more difficult, but added that “the Visegrad cooperation is not a geo-political alliance aimed at making joint foreign policies but to promote their interests more efficiently within the EU”. “In this latter area cooperation continues to be smooth,” he added.
Asked about the EU’s rule of law mechanism against Hungary, PM Orbán said that reinforcing Hungary’s ties with Poland was paramount. “Alone you cannot stand such a storm, but who knows… better not try,” he said. Hungary and Poland is an “alliance of mutual protection” and one will not allow the other to be excluded from European decision making, he said. The two countries may have a number of differences in foreign policy but their cooperation should be active in the area where it can be most successful and that is “self-defence within the EU”, he insisted. PM Orbán said he had not received a letter concerning the EU launching the mechanism. He said he did “not understand” the move as Hungary had not received “a single cent” from the recovery fund “therefore it has not been in a position to spend it unlawfully”. Irrespective of the letter, “one thing is certain, Hungary will not send weapons to Ukraine and will not give in to any pressure aimed at rolling out sanctions against Russia to gas and oil, nor will it give in concerning gender issues,” he said. PM Orbán said decisions by the European Commission and the European Parliament could “usually be explained by leftist political motivations”, adding that those decisions were “not fair, lawful or impartial”. Hungary “belongs to a minority within the EU that believes in nation states, which is conservative and Christian Democratic, and leftist groups in all institutions of the EU will try and help their Hungarian comrades, the Hungarian Left,” he insisted. The EU is before serious decisions that cannot be passed without Hungary, and “we will not be pious losers”, PM Orbán said. In reply to a question, PM Orbán said the outcome of the French elections would decide if he initiated a new alliance within the European Parliament.
In his response to questions about the recent parliamentary election, PM Orbán said the opposition should analyze the causes that had led to its defeat, and then “stand up and pull itself together because Hungary needs a parliament in which there are voices other than the government’s”. It is in the country’s interest “to have sensible debates in parliament on serious issues, which requires an opposition,” he said.
Photo credit: MTI