Interview with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on the “Patrióta” YouTube channel

26 May 2024

Dániel Bohár: I welcome Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to the Patrióta studio. Thank you for accepting our invitation.

Good evening.

Just a few days ago, less than two hundred kilometres from Budapest, a politically-motivated assassination attempt was made against Slovak prime minister Robert Fico. What was your first thought when you heard the news?

Whether or not he was dead. Because Hungarian is a good language, but there are always problems with translations. So whether he was shot at, shot, shot dead...

They mean different things.

The meanings are different. So the first thought was whether he survived – after all, he and I have relations that can be called friendly. The first thing that struck my heart was the thought, “Don’t die.” The second was that now I was in a lot of trouble, because now I’ll be alone in Brussels the next time we focus on war and other important issues; because the Slovak prime minister not only agrees with us, but also speaks up with us. And the third was that General Hajdu [head of the Counter Terrorism Centre] would come and impose all sorts of extra security rules on me – which I hate, and I have to find a way to get out of. These three thoughts came one after the other.

Has the third one happened, by the way?

All of them have.

So all of them have happened. In addition to politically-motivated assassination attempts, another term that hasn’t been used in recent decades is with us again, and has become part of our everyday lives: nuclear weapons, nuclear war, nuclear strikes. President Macron has spoken of such things, but I could also quote the Polish president or even the Swedish prime minister. You’re personally acquainted with these people who – even today – are talking about nuclear weapons, the use of nuclear weapons. After Hiroshima, do you think there’s anyone who’s serious about this?

Yes. Of course there are such people, because in the meantime the technology has evolved. As you said, in our mind’s eye we see the atomic bomb, the mushroom cloud, Hiroshima and Nagasaki; but in the meantime nuclear technology has also appeared in simpler forms. There was a debate over either the British or the Americans somehow giving the Ukrainians what are basically nuclear enriched devices, munitions. Then there are the so-called battlefield or tactical nuclear weapons, which – they’re not these huge bombs of I don’t know how many megatons – can be used specifically to destroy units fighting on the battlefield more effectively than other means. And of course there are these huge missiles, the small ones and the big intercontinental ballistic missiles, which can be used to deliver nuclear bombs and charges many times more powerful than Hiroshima. So I think that when European politicians talk about this, they’re thinking of the nuclear bomb as a tactical deterrent rather than as something that actually has to be used. But the problem is that in World War II no one thought that it would have to be used or would be used by the Americans. And usually what you think at the beginning of wars is not what you think in the middle or at the end. At the beginning people tend to think in a very civilised way that certain things can’t happen, even though the situation on the front line will be tough; but then all sorts of things happen, and the worst possible scenarios are realised. I think that those who say these things aren’t aware of this possibility. 

For this very reason, if they’re talking about it, as you’ve said, if they’re already talking about it, it’s a bad omen.

Of course it is! There are words that keep coming up, slowly becoming commonplace and alarming in themselves. So, for example, “Ukraine–NATO mission”, and “NATO mission in Ukraine”; it makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Then there are “tactical nuclear weapons”. And then there are “enriched munitions”. Then there’s “world war” itself. In that event, in the name of a defence alliance like NATO, we’d have to send soldiers outside the territory of the defence alliance into a war with another country, or between two other countries. These are frightening things, and we’re just starting to get used to them. Because of the situation that’s developed, I’m now reading diaries and memoirs which anticipated the outbreak of the First and Second World Wars. Some of these are very honest about how a warlike mood was gripping a whole continent, a whole country – the people themselves, but also the political leaders; and how irresponsibly and thoughtlessly it was promised that the war would end quickly, that it would be limited, and so on and so on. Because neither world war started with the leaders standing up and proclaiming that it would be a world war. So things don’t start like that. This is something worth doing. Somehow the resistance to this isn’t as strong in the minds of Westerners than it is in ours. I don’t know why that is, but I think about it a lot. Maybe it’s that they tend to win wars like that. They were on the winning side – some of them – in two world wars. We were on the losing side both times, so our reflexes are different. And I think we’re closer to the reality of war. Because the reality of war is terrible. So you can say clever things about strategic deterrence, but when a war breaks out people lose hands, legs, heads, women are left widowed, children are left orphaned. In a bad case – and now Ukraine is such a case – a nation will lose whole generations, there’s such a loss of manpower that a nation may not even be able to recover. I think that we’re still suffering from our losses in the First World War. So here in Hungary what immediately comes to mind is the horror of the war: the bomb craters in Budapest, and the bombed-out city. To me it looks as if in the West this reflex of immediately recalling these alarming images of personal experiences – I mean, the personal experiences of families – is not so automatic.

In fact I think this question is on the minds of most Hungarians, and I’d like to put it to you now. Do you think that these processes we’ve just been talking about could lead to World War III?

We’re engaged in a process that in ten years’ time may be said to have been part of the run-up to – or the early events in – World War III. So when World War I started, they said something like it being “the Third Balkan War”. Or when the Germans invaded Poland they talked about “the Danzig crisis”, then “the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact”, but they didn’t think that this would turn into a worldwide war with tens of millions of victims. But now, when historians write the history of these wars, they write their books with these events at the beginning. So it can’t be ruled out that if things go wrong, if we can’t control the war psychosis in Brussels, if we can’t get European politics out of this war vortex, then it’s possible that the history of these years will be written as episodes in the first one or two years of a great European world war.

You’ve mentioned that war, including in Ukraine, can cripple generations, erasing them from the cycle of history. But there’s also an economic dimension to the war. I’ve brought some economic data here. For example, the GDP of the United States grew by 2.5 per cent last year, Russian GDP grew by 3.6 per cent, while the German economy’s performance fell by 0.3 per cent. If I look back, this wasn’t what was promised when the war broke out and European leaders were talking about how sanctions would bring everyone here to their knees – but mostly the Russians. What will happen to Europe? Who’s responsible for all this?

Now, if we talk about the economic burden, so far the countries of the European Union have put about 100 billion euros into this war; and I don’t think the United States has been reluctant to join in, so we’re at about 200 billion euros. And for the European economy, to the war deficit one needs to add the economic development that hasn’t taken place – which is obviously another few hundred billion. So we’re already suffering terrible losses. Incidentally, people don’t not know this, but they’re already paying for the war, because if you go to the shops and look at the prices, you’ll see that the prices are strange. Prices aren’t like that in peacetime. Something has happened here – and that something is war. Because the moment the economy enters a climate of war, as the entire European economy is in today, the first thing that rises is the interest rates on loans. Then energy prices rise, then transport costs, then the amounts allocated to insuring companies. Then businesses become cautious, because this isn’t the time for development, and all this is already driving up prices. And you, I, and all of us are paying the price. So we’re already involved in financing the war – even Hungary, which is the only country that’s doing everything it can to stay out of the war, because we’re coming out just as everyone else is crawling into it. I didn’t like this whole thing from the beginning – and not just because people don’t like war in general. And one might have thought that an argument that would have carried some weight was that these were two Slavic nations, two militaristic nations seriously involved in a war. And now, of course, we can’t believe that anyone’s telling the truth, and the officially published casualty figures aren’t credible. The way we’ve calculated, the way our services have calculated, it looks like the casualties number somewhere between 500,000 and one million. Already! This is with only two Slavic countries at war, not Europe as a whole. If we have time, perhaps we can also talk about the demographic impact of the world wars on our continent and on Hungary, and how we’re still paying the price in the form of children not being born. But let’s get back to the beginning of things, and why – beyond the horror of war – I didn’t like the whole thing from the start. It’s because before making difficult decisions in politics, logical reasoning is required. There was great enthusiasm for the strategy in which the Ukrainians would be ready to fight and we’d give them money and weapons. This is the essence of the strategy. Where this strategy comes from is also worth talking about, because George Soros wrote about it in 1993 – but let’s put that aside for the moment. My problem with it wasn’t that George Soros had written about it. My problem was that if this was the strategy, then they needed to answer the following question that I asked them: “How much weaponry and money do you think we’ll need to achieve the goal of driving the Russians out of the country?” This, I pointed out, would be while the Russians weren’t just standing idly by, but also producing: throwing in weapons and putting in money. “What”, I asked, “is the order of magnitude of the money and the amount of weaponry that will achieve the victory that our strategy envisages?” And the answer was this: Putin must not win.” I said, “Gentlefolk, I understand that! What’s the number? How many hundreds of billions of euros are we talking about, and how much weaponry?” Because even if it’s not possible to plan the details of a war, a strategy – a war strategy – must be based on rational considerations. And there hasn’t been an answer since then either. And I always ask this question, I ask this question once every quarter: “Is there any calculation? Especially now that the Russians have successfully switched over to a war economy, and they’re producing weapons, and they have money, and they have growth – because they’re not being squeezed out of the world energy market at all, but are just accessing it in a more complicated way. But in light of that, how much will this cost in the end?” And there’s no answer.

Why is there no answer?

Because they don’t know themselves.

So it’s a bottomless pit.

Europe is drifting into a war without any quantitative estimate of the cost or the means to achieve its military objective. I’ve never seen anything more irresponsible in all my life.

What you’ve said is very interesting, so let’s talk about it. How can a war like this break societies in two?

If I recall my studies correctly, in Europe we lost more than 50 million – perhaps 57 million – people in the two world wars; and we Hungarians lost over 1.5 million in those wars. The vast majority of these were young people with families, or who might be going to have families. So Hungary has lost 1.5 million young men in the last hundred or so years. They were taken from us, and their children and grandchildren were taken from us. If they’d been born and had been able to live a normal family life, Hungary wouldn’t have demographic problems today. And I don’t think Europe would have the same problems – because 57 million parents and grandparents is a high number. And then there’s the whole issue of migration: because there aren’t enough white Christians here, there’s an empty space into which illegal migrants from the other side of the Mediterranean can come and settle – and that’s a problem. We lost these people in the wars. Because, of course, war in Europe is primarily a clash of nations. We know who was in the Triple Entente, we know who the Central Powers were, and so on. So we understand what it was all about, but in fact if you look above that, if you look at it from a higher vantage point, every European war is also a European civil war in which we’re killing one another. This contrasts with other civilizations, where there are no such wars, or they’re not killing one another to such an extent – and where, therefore, their numbers and their proportions on the planet are increasing while ours are stagnating through war. So wars place a very heavy economic burden on us all in our everyday lives: pain because of the families that are lost; horrors for the families from which young people have gone off to fight; and on the historical horizon they devalue what we call white Christian European civilisation, because it’s running out of strength – as strength comes from people, not technology. Therefore the first reflex of us European leaders in any war – because conflicts can always break out – should be not to escalate or spread it, but to contain it and declare any armed conflict to be a failure. It has to be said that we politicians have failed, because the direction of events has been taken out of our hands and handed over to others by the diplomats. The future should not be decided by the soldiers, but by elected leaders and diplomats. And if conflict does break out: isolate, contain, shut down, limit, and negotiate immediately! Do not – as we’re doing now – jump in, internationalise it, back it up and magnify it, so that the Western world ends up teetering on the brink of world war.

Speaking of which, what do you think of the fact that in several Western European countries, including Germany, there’s talk of restoring conscription and enlisting young people? So are we back to the historical examples I’ve just mentioned, such as in the two world wars?

There are two different things in the news. The first is conscription itself, which is always something to think about. When there was peace in Europe, we all thought that there was no need for conscription. Professional armies within a NATO alliance will perform this task – a task which is noble, demanding and dangerous. They’ll risk their lives, defend the country, be under arms, train, be prepared for action and live differently from the rest of the country; because a soldier isn’t an employee in uniform, but a warrior – a potential warrior or an actual warrior – who’s preparing for this. So there are people who commit themselves to this, and I think that they form the better part of nations. They’re determined, serious people, and the rest of us can be spared – can be spared conscription. This is where we are at the moment. We shall see how this develops – whether or not there will be another wave of conscription in Europe. It would be a good idea to stay with the status quo and use a professional army to do what needs to be done, encouraging young people to take part in one or two months of training, reserve training, so that they can assemble a weapon, take it apart and defend themselves. So there are some basics that I think can be taught to young people without conscription. And the subject “National Defence” should be taught in schools: it’s a transparent and manageable subject. But what’s nauseating – or I don’t know how to put it – is when this good European People’s Party politician, Weber, says that we need European conscription. Oh, so you, my friend, will give directions from Germany or Brussels telling Hungarian families that they should enlist their sons in some kind of compulsorily conscripted European army, and you’ll tell them where to go. Well, we remember at Voronezh [in Russia in 1942] that when you, Dear German Friends, told us where to go, the first consideration wasn’t to preserve Hungarian troops. So we don’t want someone else deciding on the deployment of our young soldiers, on sending our young soldiers here and there. And this is what he’s talking about: a pan-European army with compulsory conscription. Well, no! Forget it! An example of insane ideas. 

What room for manoeuvre do we Hungarians have in this less than rosy European situation?

We must stay out! There were two world wars. In both of them we began with serious people leading the country, very serious people leading the country, and we wanted to stay out because it was in the Hungarian national interest. István Tisza even made it clear that if we went to war and didn’t win, then historical Hungary would fall apart, and so we must not enter the war. And in the Vienna War Council he took this position until he was suppressed. The moment came, and the Hungarian government was pushed into World War I. Miklós Horthy also wanted to stay out of a world war, he wanted to keep the Hungarian army intact, and he certainly didn’t want to be in a subordinate role in any war situation; but in the end the Germans pushed Hungary into the war. But the question is, if it finds itself in such a situation, will our generation be any better than they were? Can it perform better? Can we survive? And this creates enormous difficulties. So I feel all the dilemmas and pain of the old greats, because I can also see it, I can feel the hands on my shoulders and on my back, pushing me into it, downwards, forwards, the Prime Minister of Hungary being pushed towards war. Every time! And this is where it must be resisted. We’ll see what we can do. Now I don’t want to get into a direct campaign, but the more stable the Hungarian government is, the clearer the Hungarian people’s position is on the peace side of the war and peace issue, the more I have something to prop me up, the more chance I have of keeping the country out of the war.

And when you’re battling in Brussels on this issue, how can you best play against this pressure and for more room for manoeuvre? 

There’s a science in it. No issue is black and white, and there are always those who don’t agree completely, or only a little or only partially. There’s always a gap where you can somehow get in and at least find allies on details, or raise issues that haven’t been worked out, and therefore ask for a renegotiation. I won’t spell these out now if I don’t have to, but there’s one...

The art of politics...

I have a list, yes, in my pocket, of what to do at this time, and I try. But sometimes it becomes brutal, so the opportunity for clever approaches is narrowed, and it’s very brutal. “Yes or no?” And then twenty-six people put their hands up or twenty-six people say “yes”, and I say “no”. That’s how it is. NATO is going to be an even more difficult dilemma, and it’s coming. As far as I can see, we’ve already identified and learned about the European Union’s efforts to push us into war, and we’ve developed techniques for resisting them. Now a new stage is coming: NATO. It’s a more difficult thing, because it’s a military defence organisation. Here the area in square metres of one’s room for manoeuvre is different from that in traditional civilian diplomacy. And now NATO wants to take the path of becoming an actor in this war. Our chances of stopping or restraining NATO from doing so are limited, because I see that the arguments we’ve presented so far haven’t convinced them – or the other side hasn’t been interested, or hasn’t wanted to be convinced in the first place. But if there really is military action, or as they say, a “NATO–Ukraine mission”, we still face the question of how to stay out of it. I’m sure that we’ll find a way of doing this, because we want to preserve the security that NATO membership provides; because the reason we joined NATO was that in the Treaty we were told that if NATO countries were attacked on their territory we’d provide mutual defence for one another. NATO countries aren’t under attack now, but NATO wants to advance. How we can stay out of this is something that I’m also looking at: how the French did it, what disputes there were in the past, what legal solutions there were, and what agreements can be concluded. We’ll also find a solution to this. In NATO also we must stand for peace, and prevent ourselves being forced into war: whatever military arguments are used, in the end we must stay out of it. There are those who argue in the opposite direction, and I’m not saying that their arguments are illogical, but the risk to Hungary is so immense that it can be measured in tens or hundreds of thousands of young people meeting their deaths. So I think that we should do everything we can to stay out of it, and see if we can do what Horthy and Tisza failed to do.

The world is changing, the world order is changing around us. We’ve talked about what movements there are in Europe. What are the other players doing in the meantime?

They’re lining their pockets, because the world economy is a perpetual contest. National economies are circling one another, and if one of them drops out of this race, they’re at a disadvantage, the others are at an advantage, and in the end they’ll get the winners’ prizes sooner than those who are at a disadvantage. So they collect the opportunities, the world economy’s monetary opportunities – and we stand and stare. That’s the predicament Europe’s in now.

It’s a good set-up...

The best example of this is energy. The Americans can sell their surpluses of oil and gas without any problem, now that the Europeans have been banned from buying from the Russians – except Hungary, of course, because we resisted. This is another typical example of staying out: staying out of something bad. The Russians, meanwhile, have developed techniques to move gas around the world not only through pipes but also, like the Americans, through large tankers, and through LNG terminals. It looks like the biggest buyer of Russian gas in recent months hasn’t been us: it’s Italy in first place, and Spain in second, buying LNG – but Russian LNG. Hungary is third. So there’s manoeuvring going on in the background, and sometimes it’s hypocritical, duplicitous...

Such are European sanctions...

Yes, but overall, in the end we lose on this one, and the Americans win. The Russians don’t win because the war is a terrible burden for them, but this is how they finance their war. The Chinese, on the other hand, see that the shifting power dynamics throughout the world are playing into their hands, because they’re gaining strength from it. They’ve been given access to the entire Russian gas and oil system by us Europeans – because if the Europeans don’t want it, the Russians will sell it to someone else. They’re building these awesome pipelines: the “Power of Siberia”. They’re discussing this all the time, and they’re making progress: this isn’t just rhetoric, these are major infrastructure developments that are actually being implemented, linking the Chinese and Russian economies. And we’ve offered this to them on a plate. So China is winning big – without even trying. I can’t say that they were looking forward to this in such a duplicitous, hypocritical way. Quite simply, the other players were moving the chess pieces around in such a way that ended up increasing the value of the Chinese areas of the board.

And can we expect change to happen in the United States? I’m obviously thinking mostly about November.

To continue in the same style, I think that we pro-peace forces have to mount a counteroffensive on two fronts. We’ve already opened one of these fronts, and now we need to win there: the European elections. Here it’s not only a question of having more pro-peace MEPs than pro-war MEPs, but also of the people of Europe pushing their own governments in the direction of less war and more peace. Because it’s not a black-and-white issue: governments won’t suddenly experience a moment of enlightenment and switch from war to peace. That only happened with the Slovaks – thanks to Robert Fico, who won the election there. What will happen instead is ever more people wanting to avoid further steps towards war, ever more people saying no, the process eventually slowing down and starting to retrace our steps back towards peace. I’d rather see it as a process – but this will only happen if in the European elections the people of Europe vote clearly for peace. Then this process, this European struggle, can be won. But this is only half the job, because the other half is the US election in November. If the current pro-war Democratic government remains, it will be difficult to move towards peace. If Donald Trump comes back it won’t be easy, but I think it will allow for clear, transparent and swift action. Of course this will lead to difficult negotiations, but at least we’ll be able to see that we’re turning off the war path and the Americans are moving towards the path of peace – even if peace can only be achieved after long negotiations. But for us now the most important thing – of course the ceasefire is the most important thing, the immediate ceasefire – is a sense of security, secure prospects, so that we can all believe that of course there’s a big problem, there is a war, but our leaders in Europe and in America are sensible, and everyone’s is working to end this war, and not to expand it. Because today people don’t trust any government in Western Europe, as they see that their leaders don’t want to shut down the source of their problems, but...


…escalate. So the Western world should at least have the sense of security that its leaders are in their right minds and are moving towards shutting it down and peace. If this happens, then everything can change quickly, the perception of reality can change, the fear and anxiety of the European people will start to diminish, the circulation of blood in the economy will accelerate, investment will start to pick up, inflation will come down, and interest rates on loans will fall. And so, after the numbness, suddenly normal circulation will return to the European or Western economy’s blood system.

We can see that the war lobby also has quite a strong presence in Hungary. What do they want with Hungary? What’s their aim with us? What do they want to achieve here?

Let’s now throw ourselves into conspiracy theories.

Are they? 

It’s said that there are conspiracies. A conspiracy theory is always simplistic, so beware of it; but there are conspiracies. So it’s not only possible to think about this, but also necessary – especially in the case of a country that’s given humanity the world’s biggest conspirator, in the person of George Soros. So if anyone has the right or the reason to think about conspiracies, the biggest conspirator, capital speculator, schemer and backroom machinator in the world is one of our compatriots. I don’t think Hungarians are allowed to think in this context. George Soros has attempted – and not once or twice – to buy up the entire Hungarian economy, wholesale. In 1990 the then members of the Antall government could tell you about that; then OTP, and the members of the Horn government could tell you about it; and then again in the 2000s. So we have our own small story of conspiracy. But now we’re dealing with a big one, on a European scale. What do I think the plan looks like for those who will win the war? It’s not only George Soros who’s winning this war, but there are many people who are speculating: the whole arms industry, and those lending for arms purchases and manufacture. So it’s a wide…

It’s a huge business.

Huge money and huge stakes are on the table. Now, as I watch them, I think their strategy is that they need four things to succeed. First, they need weapons, and then they’ll finance the production of those weapons. Then they need people who are willing to fight – and these are the poor Ukrainians. Then they need a government that wants all this, or governments that want all this. They should be bought, if possible, just as the Left in Hungary have been bought – in the hope that they’ll come to power and then it will be solved. In Western Europe this process is more advanced, as it is in the European institutions too. And the fourth important element is the media. Let’s say that they need a corrupt media, either controlled by them or created by them, which creates a pro-war atmosphere. By the way, this isn’t unusual: we’ve seen this kind of penetration of the media by financial capital in previous wars. So they need a media which makes people believe that there’s no alternative: war is the only option – and they even say that whoever argues for war is saying the right thing, is in the morally right position. This is what the Western European media says almost without limit – with the exception of Hungary and one or two other countries. In Hungary, for example, it’s possible to have a debate about the war. Try to screen a show like that in Western Europe! How many people would see it? So it’s impossible! And if you step out of line on these issues related to “open society” – LGBTQ, migration, family policy, demography, war – you can expect some kind of retaliation everywhere, starting in your workplace. So I can report that Western European freedom is in a bad way. We think that the situation over there is the same as it is here.

Can anyone say what they want?

This is a “coffee house country”. Here, when there’s a problem which doesn’t need talking about, everyone talks about it just the same, when there’s not much of a problem. So in Hungary you can’t stifle people’s voices; the communists didn’t manage to do that either, even though they really tried.

They did try...

If we look at the Hungarian media today, which is what it is, of course, although obviously we’re not here to discuss that, at least half of it gives a liberal interpretation of the world; and the other half gives a conservative, national, sovereigntist interpretation of the world. This wide latitude for describing and interpreting the world isn’t available in the West. If you open a German newspaper from either the Left or the Right, there are differences in tone, of course, but they’re all within the same general zone. No one says anything that strays outside that zone, because that would be a scandal. Over there anyone who speaks out of turn can be dissuaded from continuing with techniques and instruments wielded by either a political party or a media owner. The script for those who profit from war is this: weapons, soldiers, bought governments, and media founded or bought by investors – by pro-war investors. And this is assembled into a system that pushes the war machine forward. Now the question is, what can be done about it? Stay out of it!

What I don’t understand is that basically we’re a country of ten million people. The other countries, most of the Western countries, have all fallen into line. Why does what we ten million Hungarians say matter to this war lobby?

This is what I’m trying to convince them of. So I say to them: “Boys and girls, I understand you, but I think what you’re doing is wrong, it’s not logical, you shouldn’t do it, and it will come back to haunt us all. But if you do it, at least leave us out.” This is what I say on migration, on LGBTQ issues and on the war: “Leave us in peace! A country of ten million…” 

Why don’t they leave us alone?

Some say: “What’s your problem? Hungarians, they are what they are, you can’t talk to them, they don’t listen to anyone, they live somewhere on the steppe around the Danube and the Tisza.” They don’t even know where Hungary is. They say, “They live in their world somewhere far away, they eat their mutton stew and braid their hair in pigtails, or whatever. So let them do what they want, it doesn’t matter.” The problem is that it does matter. Because this is the hinge for what they’re doing, the whole door swings on it. Everyone is a link in the chain, and no one can be left out. Because if one is left out and that one turns out to be successful… And Hungary is a successful country, regardless of the fact that we’re justifiably never satisfied with our own performance. But in fact Hungary’s still a democracy where people can speak freely, and it’s a safe country. I don’t know how many times the Sorosists here have tried to strangle and eviscerate its economy – but no, it’s standing on its own feet, it’s back after COVID, it will survive this war. It’s doubled in size: while everyone said it was doomed, people’s savings have gone from 1,000 billion forints to five times that. So this country is not only alive and well, but it’s working, it has its own strategy, and it’s successful. And if you can be successful by staying out, then others will say – or maybe some will say – that others can try it: for example, “The Hungarian strategy would suit us better than the solution proposed by the Franco-German axis.”

So are we a risk factor?

Yes, I think we’re a dangerous example. But I try to convince them that we’re not dangerous at all, so they should leave us alone. Then when that doesn’t work we’ll fight, we’ll pick up the gauntlet. But as long as we’re able, I’d rather try to keep Hungary out of the insanity at the lowest possible cost – not for me personally, but for our country.

I’ve left perhaps one of my most important questions to the end. Do you think Europe can be pulled off this warpath, out of this madness? Could 9 June be a turning point? 

It could be an important staging post. I find it hard to imagine that the situation will be immediately reversed without the right result in the US election; but I think it will raise the stakes in the US election by reshaping the European political battlefield. And this, combined with a positive US election, could turn the tide. And in general, I must say that – now, somewhat independently of the war – the whole of the European continent needs its peoples to stand up to those who have got us into this mess. In such a serious interview I wouldn’t say “flip the bird”, as it’s not appropriate, but they should take a long run up and land a kick on the backsides of those responsible. After all, five years have passed. Seriously, this is the worst European Commission I’ve ever seen. The Commission has become a war council. The European Parliament is turning into a chamber of war, while people in general are moving towards peace. They’ve made all kinds of commitments that they haven’t been able to deliver on: “With sanctions we’ll end the war, and with the green transition we’ll make our industry competitive.” Meanwhile it’s dying. They haven’t delivered on any of their serious commitments, so why should they be kept on? We’re not just talking about the war, which is of course by far the most important thing, but we’re also talking about the viability of democracy in Europe as a whole. Does it matter what people decide or not? We’ve reached the point at which we must prove to the whole of Europe that this is our continent, and that these countries are our countries. What the people say must happen here. If they want peace, peace must happen. If you want to bring sense to the green transition because it’s no good, then bring sense to it. If you want to stop farmers being destroyed by these idiotic rules, then change those rules. So we’re talking about the war and we’re talking about the future of European democracy as a whole and our system of political traditions.

So this is the challenge we’re facing.

We’re in a big game, and I think the stakes are huge. I don’t know whether the Hungarian people understand these connections, whether they grasp them. I don’t know whether they realise that this isn’t just about how their votes will divide 21 Hungarian seats among the parties within a European Parliament that has hundreds of seats. In fact the stakes and the meaning of all this are much higher than usual. If they don’t know, they must be told. My campaign, our campaign, is about that. The question of war and peace – the question of the future of Europe, which is what they’ll decide in this election – is what I’m trying to put clearly on the table. And we shall see whether we can mobilise the people. And if that’s successful, let’s see if we can succeed in making it clear that what’s now being decided is an issue that needs to be approached honestly, seriously and with consideration. So we’re not talking about media hype, we’re not talking about party politics, but about war and peace, about the future, about the future of our children, and about the prospects for life in Hungary in general.

Prime Minister, thank you very much for accepting our invitation, and thank you for the discussion.

Thank you.

This was the Patrióta interview with Viktor Orbán. Please share the video and follow the channel. See you!

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