Hungary’s leadership is strong enough to keep the war away from the country

There are some who want to force Hungary into the war, and they are not picky about the means with which to achieve that goal, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told the Swiss weekly Weltwoche, stressing that “Hungary’s leadership is strong enough to keep the war away from our country.”

In the issue of the magazine released on Thursday, in answer to the question about how Hungary is coping with the war in Ukraine, the Prime Minister said “we are most affected by the EU sanctions introduced against Russia” which have drastically increased the prices of oil and gas. Hungary has recently made enormous progress in the area of the development of its industry, and the energy that is necessary for its operation must be imported, Mr Orbán pointed out, adding that while in 2021 this cost the country EUR 7 billion, in 2022 this amount was EUR 17 billion. The Prime Minister said the war “is taking its toll on our soul, on our psyche.” “Ukraine is our neighbour where Hungarians live as well. They are conscripted and are dying by the hundreds on the front,” he said, highlighting that this war “is taking place not far from us,” and this is why everyone in Hungary wants peace.

“We are praying and have faith in the Lord that he will make the warring parties come to a realisation. There is continuous pressure on us. There are some who want to force us into the war, and they’re not picky about the means with which to achieve that goal. So far we have managed to resist. This is what gives me hope. Hungary’s political leadership is strong enough to keep our country away from the war. I’m saying this with due modesty, but with self-confidence at the same time,” Mr Orbán stated, also highlighting that he believes that Christian teachings are also valid in politics.

In answer to a question, the Prime Minister said the most important realisation of the war in Ukraine is that “Europe has retired from the debate.” “In the decisions adopted in Brussels, I recognise American interests more frequently than European ones,” he added, also pointing out that today in a war that is taking place in Europe “the Americans have the final word.”

Photo: Fischer Zoltán

In continuation, he said “we have no European identity either emotionally, or intellectually.” In his words, “if we had conducted a debate about the future of Europe seriously, without taboos […], it is most likely that already at the beginning of the war we would have had a firm image of ourselves.” At the same time, the Prime Minister said it is unfortunate that Donald Trump lost the elections in the United States because if the former Republican president had won the elections, “there would have been no war.”

At this point, Mr Orbán also observed that the change of governments in Germany had “had its fair share in this” as well. The Prime Minister agreed with the journalist’s assumption that the deeper causes of Europe’s weakness should be sought in the European Union because “it is destroying the nation states without replacing them with anything workable.” Mr Orbán said “I myself see things this way. The EU wants ‘an ever closer union.’ We don’t agree on the goal, but agree on the path. This is the cause of Europe’s illness.”

Regarding the outcome of the war, the Prime Minister said “no one can win it.” “There is a nuclear power with a population of 140 million up against the Ukrainians, while there is the whole of NATO up against the Russians. This is what makes things so dangerous. There is a stalemate which can easily escalate into a world war,” Mr Orbán pointed out, recalling that two weeks before the outbreak of the war when he met with Vladimir Putin for the last time in Moscow, the Russian President told him that Hungary’s NATO membership was not a problem, only that of Ukraine and Georgia.

“Putin has a problem – this is what he told me – with the American missile bases already created in Romania and Poland, and with NATO’s potential expansion towards Ukraine and Georgia in order to station armaments there. Additionally, the Americans terminated important disarmament treaties. This is why Putin could no longer have a good night’s sleep,” Mr Orbán said, also observing that “I understand what Putin said, but can’t accept what he did.”

In the interview, the Hungarian Prime Minister also pointed out that “Russia is a different civilisation” where European political norms do not work. “It doesn’t matter whether we like this or not,” he remarked, adding that we must find a way to live together with a large and dangerous power such as Russia in our immediate neighbourhood. Mr Orbán said he did not even want to imagine what would happen if Russia lost the war. “Russia is a nuclear power. That would be a geopolitical shock, a potentially devastating earthquake on a global scale, something much worse than the collapse of Yugoslavia. The very fact that now the West is taking this scenario lightly testifies to an attitude that is at an alarming, in fact, a frightening distance from reality, to blindness to the risks that are inherent in its own policy,” he stressed.

The Prime Minister said Europe must be able to defend itself. “A European NATO would be the solution. I suggested this already back in 2012,” he recalled. Regarding the conclusion of a peace deal, he said “peace begins in the heart, it must next reach the brain which will then guide the hands.” “This is the order: we must wish for peace, we must then want it, and we must finally create peace. Today, this desire, this will is missing, at least in the West,” he added, pointing out that the Chinese, the Indians, the Arabs, the Turks and the Brazilians all want peace.

“The West has lost its ability to unite the world in the interest of a single cause. Its philosophical tenets are limited in space. This is a new phenomenon,” he underlined. Regarding Hungary’s role in the restoration of peace, Mr Orbán said “if our friends and allies want to surrender the pro-war point of view, they must see an alternative.”

Photo: Fischer Zoltán

In answer to a question about what should happen in the United States and whether the course of politics can change, Mr Orbán pointed out that the Hungarian experience was clear. “Whenever the Democrats are in power in Washington, we run to shelter. They always want to change us, the same as politicians in Brussels. They want to tell us how to manage migration and how to teach our children. This shows a lack of respect,” he said, adding that “we are a successful country, and we are doing our share for Europe. We are the defenders of the forts situated on the periphery of the continent. They don’t recognise the work that we do. This is why we look forward to our Republican friends returning to power again.”

Mr Orbán said Donald Trump was not the world’s last hope of peace, “but he is a hope.” According to the Prime Minister, Donald Trump “would probably succeed in brokering peace within a few weeks.”
In response to the interviewer’s statement that “the preachers of globalisation and free trade meeting annually at the Davos World Economic Forum” have a new gospel: “global rearrangement” in which “we’re the goods ones and they’re the bad ones,” Mr Orbán laid down that this posed a severe threat to Hungary. “We are an export-oriented country. Exports are responsible for 85 per cent of our gross domestic product. We have important cultural and economic relations in the East. A rearrangement would be fatal for Hungary. But I think it would be equally fatal for Germany,” he said.
Regarding Switzerland, the Prime Minister described the Alpine state as an important country which is “what it wants to be, but is not isolated at the same time.” “Meaning that the preservation of one’s own identity does not necessarily lead to provincialism. Switzerland is an important positive example,” Mr Orbán said, pointing out in continuation that if Hungary were geographically where Switzerland is, then “we, too, would be neutral.” “This is a Swiss luxury, we can’t afford it,” he stated.
In answer to a question, the Prime Minister said in the short term the biggest threat posed by uncontrolled immigration lies in the deterioration of public security and terrorism. “In the medium term, in economic losses. In the long term, in one not recognising one’s own country, in one losing one’s own country,” he laid down.
As the biggest threat posed by gender ideology, Mr Orbán identified the fact that children between the ages of 14 and 18 “must grow into the world.” “During this period, their identity must be strengthened, rather than weakened and made uncertain as gender ideologists do. With this they’re destroying our children. Irrevocably, irreversibly. They have no right to do that,” the Prime Minister underlined.
In answer to a question about what the Hungarian Prime Minister would do if for one day he were “the EU’s dictator” as he was once described by former President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, Mr Orbán said “I would do what Mr Juncker was so fond of doing: I would get drunk. Luckily, this option is not really on the cards.”
In continuation, he said there is a good manual written by former Bavarian Minister-President Edmund Stoiber in which Stoiber describes how the EU could be reorganised on the basis of subsidiarity.
“It is not the knowledge that is lacking, but the intention,” Mr Orbán said, arguing for the need of “all powers that the EU claimed for itself without the mandate of the Member States being returned to the Member States.”