The Prime Minister recalled that two weeks previously restrictions had already been relaxed in the countryside; this will now also take place in Pest County. Budapest is a big question, this is where the highest numbers of infections and fatalities are, and due to the enormous population density, this is where it is the most difficult to rectify bad decisions, he said.
He took the view that the development of the number of infections shows that the conditions for restarting life are in place also in Budapest; however, everyone must behave in a responsible manner. On Saturday morning, the government will conduct further consultations with experts, and a decision could be adopted about the measures to be implemented in Budapest in the afternoon, he said.
He pointed out that duty services must be adjusted to cater for needs in creches and nursery schools because at present parents can only take their children to designated places, rather than to the institutions they normally attend. The best solution would be if parents could take their children to the institutions they normally attend, but this requires the agreement of mayors, given that most nursery schools are operated by local governments, he said, adding that as long as the issue of nursery schools and creches is not settled to everyone’s satisfaction, we cannot deal with the issue of schools.
Regarding the reopening of schools, he said at this time it is impossible to tell whether this will take place during this school year as the situation could change within just a few days. Therefore, we must remain in standby mode. Children would probably not come to any harm, but they could take the infection home, and so we must be cautious, he pointed out.
Mr Orbán observed that Budapest is following the countryside at a delay of two weeks, and if everyone behaves in a responsible manner, they can change over to the second phase of the containment effort.
In the context of the Pesti út elderly care home, he said the Mayor of Budapest “will write an excellent study” about what happened, “but in the meantime more than 40 persons died”. If “the mayor were an István Tarlós kind of man”, he would go there, take control of the situation and sort things out, he said, adding that he is asking mayors to assume practical responsibility.
The Prime Minister also highlighted that in March industrial production had dramatically decreased in Europe, while tourism had effectively disappeared. While tourism is important in Hungary, industrial production is a far higher priority. In the whole of Europe, industrial production has fallen by 12 per cent, while in Hungary by 10 per cent, meaning that “so far we have been somewhat better at overcoming the hurdles in our way,” he explained.
He took the view that the April figures will be shocking, May figures could give rise to some hope, and from June onwards we will swiftly return to the previous course of growth.
The Prime Minister said there are some who believe that the fall in the economic growth rate is the biggest problem. However, as far as they are concerned, the number one ailment is the loss of jobs. Hungary must be able to create new jobs to replace those destroyed by the epidemic, and so they are turning their attention towards job creation in all sectors, and have taken measures to this end, he pointed out.
He recalled that public works schemes are able to hire another 100,000 persons, the defence forces are ready to recruit young people, and they have introduced a wage support system, as part of which 5,400 businesses have submitted requests for the state subsidisation of the wages of some 72,000 persons. From 1 July, the social contribution tax will decrease by 2 per cent, and tens of thousands of businesses will be required to pay next to nothing in the form of taxes on wages, he listed.
He highlighted that they had won the first battle, they had succeeded in curbing the epidemic. At the same time, the second battle will be about the protection of jobs and they will win that, too.
He observed that they would gradually reintroduce the 13th month pension, despite the crisis.
Mr Orbán also said they expect EU institutions to help, not hinder us.
He stressed that we were in the midst of a pandemic; throughout Europe, the number of fatalities is around 150,000. Hungary is among the countries that are dealing best with the epidemic, and at a time when true European cooperation is required, it is alarming that “the Brussels world, the Brussels bureaucrats whom we pay” and who should concern themselves with highly important things “are picking on” Hungary, he said.
Regarding the Thursday judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Prime Minister said the issue of migration continues to drive European politics and Brussels decisions; the issue of whether they can force Member States to let migrants in against their will. This judgement, too, is about that, but “they will not be able to trick us,” he said, adding that if the European Court adopts a decision which is contrary to the Hungarian Constitution, the Constitution must take priority.
Concerning the Gyöngyöspata case, the Prime Minister said while most of the period in question fell on the mandate of the previous government, this is a more important case where principles are at stake. The goal of the government is to ensure that Hungarian people feel at home in Hungary, including in their own settlements. We cannot have a situation where in order for a minority to feel at home the majority must feel like strangers in their own country, he stated.
He took the view that Soros organisations started this case which “is not bad as a money-making operation”, but at the same time it is an attack on majority society.
He said the latest judgement is unfair, “it serves the law, but it does not deliver justice” and most certainly does not do right by Gyöngyöspata. “However, we will find justice.” There is a need for legislative changes to prevent this from happening again, he stated.