Internal Affairs / Bill of misguided decision should be footed by those who adopted it, not by the Hungarian people 

Bill of misguided decision should be footed by those who adopted it, not by the Hungarian people 

At the EU summit, Hungary did not take part in the decision related to Ukraine’s EU accession. Hungary, however, vetoed the EUR 50 billion grant intended for Ukraine, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Kossuth Radio’s programme ‘Good morning, Hungary’ on Friday. He described the commencement of accession talks with Ukraine as a misguided decision, and stated that the Hungarians will not pay for its possible negative consequences. 

In an interview conducted at the Brussels Public Service Media Headquarters, the Prime Minister said there was a long and difficult debate at the EU summit, for eight hours he made every effort to convince attendees to not even place the issue of Ukraine’s accession talks on the agenda, or if they do so, to make it clear that Ukraine is not ready to become a member of the EU. 

This decision is untimely, the situation is not ripe for it, we should come back to this when Ukraine is ready to engage in talks, he stressed. 

“For eight hours I struggled to explain to them that to help badly is worse than to not help at all,” he said. 

He added that they could not be convinced because they had two compelling arguments that he had no choice but to accept. “One of them is that they’re 26 and I’m alone, and through this decision they want to give Ukraine the encouragement they need for the continuation of the war. So, they asked me not to prevent them from doing so,” he recalled. 

At the same time, their decisive argument was that Hungary had nothing to lose by this decision, given that the national parliaments, including the Hungarian parliament, will have the final word regarding Ukraine’s membership. If we do not want Ukraine to become a member of the European Union, the Hungarian Parliament will vote against it, he stated.

He highlighted that it will be a long process before the matter reaches the national parliaments; until then, there will be around 75 occasions on which the Hungarian government can stop this process. 

“They said that should anything during the negotiations violate Hungary’s best interests, I should stop them then; however, they want to go ahead, so I shouldn’t hinder them,” said the Prime Minister, adding that he, however, did not want such a bad decision “on Hungary’s conscience,” and this is why he said that he did not want to take part in it. 

Hungary does not want to take part in this misguided decision; do it on your own, and so instead I left the room,he said. 

He also mentioned that he was, however, compelled to veto an EU grant worth EUD 50 billion intended for Ukraine; they will probably come back to this as part of an extraordinary summit sometime in February.

He stressed that they had wanted to give the money of Member States, including the money of the Hungarian people, to Ukraine, however, he had vetoed this – as this amounted to a specific encroachment. At the same time, he also recalled that this was only a veto in an ordinary sense; in a legal sense, it is not a veto, but a unanimous decision which cannot be adopted without Hungary.

“I had to veto the 50 billion and the amendment of the budget, they had no choice but to accept that Hungary would exercise its veto, so there’s no money,” he pointed out. 

Mr Orbán warned that the commencement of the accession talks regarding Ukraine’s EU membership was a flawed decision which could have negative impacts. However, “the Hungarians will not pay for its financial and economic consequences.” 

He stressed that the bill would have to be footed by those who had adopted this decision. EU Member States “are determined to set out in this direction,” and so Hungary only has the possibility of warning them that “this is a misguided decision.”

This poor decision will not weigh upon Hungary’s conscience, later on, we will be able to stop this process, he added, stressing that the ultimate decision on Ukraine’s accession will be made by the Hungarian Parliament. If it comes to protecting the best interests of Hungarian farmers, Hungary will slam on the brakes, no one should have no doubt about that, the Prime Minister stated. 

He added that “the EU tends to make poor decisions from time to time,” mentioning as examples the decision adopted in 2008 in connection with the financial crisis, the decision related to migration and the decision when in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict “they chose to set out in the direction of war, rather than peace, and introduced sanctions.” 

Mr Orbán stressed that Hungary had no vested interest in the European Union managing its finances by taking out loans.

The EU’s finances are such that we can spend as much money as we pay in. We have already made an exception once before, and are now paying the price, he said, recalling that the European Union already tried the idea of common borrowing to finance the post-coronavirus pandemic recovery process, but did not allow everyone to access this sum under the same conditions. They must never do anything like this ever again, he laid down. 

He said the situation in Ukraine is dire; instead of sending more money to the war, the conflict should be stopped, we need a ceasefire and peace talks. He highlighted that the commencement of Ukraine’s accession talks “does not in itself violate Hungary’s interests,” however, if the country is supported from credit, “that amounts to an immediate encroachment,” this is why he exercised his veto. 

“Better late than never,” “we are entitled to” this money, they had to give it to us, he said, commenting on the fact that Hungary will receive a third of the blocked EU funds. 

He said Hungary had met all conditions a long time ago. “We are entitled” to this money, “it can be delayed, pushed from here to there, […] they can set new conditions, but they have to give it to us eventually.” 

Mr Orbán stressed that the recent period had some conclusions to offer, the first one being that Hungary was also able to function without EU funds. Despite the high inflation, the economic chaos caused by the sanctions and energy prices soaring sky-high, the Hungarian economy survived this period; in actual fact, next year, inflation will be around 5 to 6 per cent, and our economic growth will be one of the highest in the European Union. 

The Prime Minister added that the second conclusion was that there was a need for change in Brussels because the very fact that they had “messed about” with Hungary as they had in Brussels indicated that Brussels had a tendency of abusing its power. 

At the same time, the third conclusion is that what is due is due; it must be given to us sooner or later, he observed, adding that once we actually have the money, the Hungarian Parliament will decide how much of it should be used for raising the salaries of teachers, supporting small businesses and energy modernisation projects.

Mr Orbán indicated that the fact that they want to amend the legislative act on the EU’s seven-year budget is an excellent opportunity for Hungary to receive the rest of the blocked funds. “Not half of it, not a quarter of it, we must be given the lot,” he said, highlighting that “we demand fair treatment, and now there is a good chance to enforce this.” 

Regarding the sovereignty protection law adopted by Parliament on Tuesday, the Prime Minister took the view that the law will finally close down the loopholes, thereby preventing dollars from rolling into the pockets of the Left. 

He stressed that its own independence, sovereignty is every country’s greatest treasure; this is what the constitutional system itself stands to serve.

Mr Orbán added that while the Hungarian system stood on adequate, robust, “muscular” legs, it was revealed in the campaign of the 2022 parliamentary elections that there was some room left “between the two legs” where “the mice can sneak in or dollars can roll in.” 

He said that while the Hungarian constitutional system prohibits it, the Left nonetheless found a way to attempt to influence the outcome of the elections with foreign money partly through left-wing media and partly through the subsidisation of non-governmental organisations affiliated to or working for the Left. 

The sovereignty protection law was adopted to prevent this from happening again, he pointed out. 

The Prime Minister also spoke about the fact that those who live off the rolling dollars, who are funded from abroad are now protesting and making noise because the loopholes have been definitively shut down, thereby stopping the flow of the rolling dollars. 

He highlighted that those are speaking up now who have been the recipients of these funds so far; those are protesting who live off those funds, “this is a protest of mercenaries.” 

Those whose interests are violated by the law – because they have received money from abroad – evidently do not like the new legislation, he stressed, adding that this legislative package protects Hungary’s interests well. 

He recalled, however, that sovereignty did not mean that a country sought to detach itself from the rest of the world as good connections with world trade offered Hungary great opportunities. This is why we are able to live at a higher standard than would be warranted by our size; because we manufacture goods for the entire world market, not only for a market of ten million, he explained. 

The Prime Minister stressed that the issue of sovereignty was not a choice between isolation and connectivity; it was an issue about how to make the right connections. 

Mr Orbán also spoke about the national consultation, highlighting that the government is not responsible for shaping public opinion; instead, its duty is to understand what the Hungarian people think. The national consultation helps people to ponder and state their opinions on issues which they perhaps rarely consider in their private homes, but are important for the country, he stated in summary. 

The express declaration of the people’s opinion helps the government when, for instance, they are required to veto in Brussels 26 countries’ money distribution attempt. This is not an easy operation, it requires arguments, he said. 

“For me, the greatest reserve of energy lies in knowing the country’s public opinion, the intention of the Hungarian people,” he underlined. 

The Prime Minister said the Left – acting more like mercenaries on this matter – does not follow the national interest. However, they only belong to a minority of the Hungarian nation, as clearly evidenced by the elections. We are familiar with their opinion, too, but the opinion of the vast majority is completely different from that, he pointed out. 

Rather than shaping public opinion, the government takes part in a discourse together with the people, at the end of which “we will have a Hungarian position which I am able to stand for here,” he added. 

What is, however, the most important at the end of the day, he said, is that eventually the Hungarian Parliament and the elected representatives of the Hungarian people decide on all important issues. This is how it will be regarding the issue of Ukraine’s EU accession as well, Mr Orbán said. 


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