In answer to the question of whether the budget can afford the sum of HUF 190 billion, the amount of the pension increase, Mr Orbán said it cannot afford it, but it must be done. It is the duty of the government to undertake the impossible from time to time.
He said the budget “is always planned with a deficit,” and the difference must be eliminated somehow, for instance, by taking out a loan which the country is then required to keep pushing forward over an extended period. We will be “a truly strong and happy country” if the budget closes with a surplus, but this is not the case for the time being, he said, adding that the budget was destroyed at some point during the communist regime.
He said looking at it through the eye of an economist – as the Left often did; Lajos Bokros was the champion of this idea – this money should not be given to pensioners, but you cannot do this to people who grew grey after many years of honest work.
Mr Orbán said he would like the country to feel proud due to the fact that even in times of war we are able to maintain the security of pensioners. This is not evident, this is not so in every country, in many places the raising of pensions fell far short of the rate of inflation, he observed.
He recalled that in 2010 the government agreed with pensioners that they will support the national government which will preserve the value of pensions. The government additionally also re-introduced the 13th monthly pension which was taken away from pensioners during the Gyurcsány government, he added.
The Prime Minister said the November pension raise will be built into pensions, and from January they will determine the rate of the pension increase by taking this increased sum into consideration.
He stated that this year will be about the fight against inflation, while 2024 will be about the restoration of economic growth.
Mr Orbán said according to the “textbook method,” the central bank reduces inflation with its own means. However, after a while, they had to realise that this will not work. The central bank’s “blade has broken” in the fight against inflation, he said, adding that this is not the central bank’s fault because “it only has a penknife, while inflation has grown into a tree.” Here you need an axe, and the government has that. Therefore, the government was compelled to take over the task of and responsibility for the fight against inflation, he said.
Listing the government’s measures, he recalled that they had introduced price caps, the cap on interest rates, mandatory promotions and the online price monitoring system. The government got down to the job of cutting inflation “with a big axe” and “grabbed the multinationals by the scruff of the neck” due to their unjustified price rises, he said.
He said the world is not happy to see these means being resorted to because it is used to central banks managing inflation and expects governments to be cautious, rather than “action movie heroes.” However, the government could not afford to be cautious because Hungary is by far the most exposed to energy prices in the whole of Europe, and so it had to intervene directly, he added.
He said this “crashing of the axe” has yielded the expected result, and the government will achieve the goal of making 2023 a year of knocking inflation down as inflation will fall below 10 per cent by the end of the year, while next year it will be around 4 to 6 per cent according to the central bank’s forecast.
The Prime Minister said in the meantime the process of a rise in wages had started; in September, wages most definitely increased more than prices, and in the third and fourth quarters, there will even be an economic growth.
He indicated that Hungarian businesses had adapted well to the energy crisis. Their production is becoming ever more efficient, meaning that the competitiveness of the Hungarian economy has increased in the past year.
These factors combined give us the chance and the hope that 2024 will be about the restoration of economic growth, he stressed.
Regarding the war in Ukraine, the Hungarians are not right, they will be right, he said, also stating that the West has not done the necessary sober calculations on this issue.
The Prime Minister stressed that the conflict must be isolated. At the same time, western countries want to globalise it, he pointed out.
Mr Orbán said you can join a war if you know what your goal is and by what means you want to achieve it. If that is not the case, politics will not be able to account for the lost human lives in the end, he highlighted.
The Prime Minister said he has the worst possible feeling about the war. The front lines are not moving, and yet, tens of thousands of people are dying without knowing when it will all end. In the meantime, they are deploying ever more dangerous weapons which could also reach us who are on the side of peace, he said.
Regarding Ukraine’s possible accession to the European Union, Mr Orbán said he would be cautious about these plans. First of all, it requires the consent of every Member State, and at this time, he does not see “an unquenchable desire” on the part of the Hungarian Parliament to vote for this within the next two years.
He pointed out that there was an unavoidable question: Is it right to start negotiations with a country which is engaged in a territorial war, and so there is no way of knowing what the size of its territory and what the size of its population are? The entire system of the European Union, including the distribution of funds, is based on those data, he stated.
Mr Orbán said if we want to give money to Ukraine, we must pay the EU more and we will receive less. Hungary is a country which should have a positive balance of EUR 2 billion annually as the difference between our contribution and the funds we receive, he pointed out.
He highlighted that if we give money to Ukraine, we are unable to give money to Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Croatia, we are unable to give money to the less advanced countries because there is no money for everything.
He said the answer to this is “to take out a loan.” However, if we take out a loan and do not spend it on the European Union, do not develop the European economy from it, but give it to someone else instead “about whom we know that they will never be able to repay it,” that means that “we have given our children’s and our grandchildren’s money and future to someone else,” he said.
In answer to the question of why we are not receiving funds from the EU, Mr Orbán said “a part of that money may already be in Ukraine.” When there is not even enough money to give Ukraine the sums we have already pledged to give them and we promise to give them more, and there is at the same time someone who has not received the funds they are entitled to, there is a well-founded suspicion that that money has already been spent, it is not there anymore, he said. He added that we do not know that clearly because Brussels refuses to speak with clarity regarding this matter.
He also said Brussels owes Hungary approximately EUR 3 billion because “we pay in what we have to pay in, but what they should be giving us is not forthcoming,” and so this results in a debt. “Now, they’re playing for time, they no longer say that they won’t give it to us,” they say instead that they want to ask a few questions about the functioning of the judiciary, he said.
He observed that we have now received nine questions, including whether judges have sufficient office space.
These are frivolous questions, and the whole debate is now absurd, he stated.
He said Hungary has fulfilled all its undertakings; yet, Brussels does not want to give us the money, “and is resorting to excuses conceived in sheer pain for the purpose of playing for time.”
The Prime Minister took the view that the Brussels bureaucrats are now waiting for the result of the elections in Poland, “the Brusselites would like to topple the Polish government” and to see a left-wing government in Poland. They are doing everything they can to this end, “we don’t know whether they will succeed,” he said.
He highlighted that the elections will be held in mid-October, and Brussels keeps hoping that if a left-wing government comes into power, then Hungary will be left on its own and “it will be easier to deal with us.” However, if the conservative government remains in power in Poland, the two countries will always defend one another, and then Brussels will have to make compromises, he stressed.
Mr Orbán also said the migration pact is a step backward.
He said we are facing a historical process. Regarding European history, what we see is that people on the two sides of the Mediterranean follow different demographic patterns. New populations in large numbers sometimes develop on one side, sometimes on the other, and these then set out. This is a period “when they are coming here, and this is a permanent threat for us,” he added.
He said the European Union is unable to manage this challenge because rather than viewing this question from the horizon of history, from the viewpoint of the future of our children and grandchildren, they see it as a human rights issue.
He stressed that migration was a bad and dangerous thing, involving crime, acts of terrorism, clashes between civilisations, groups of people with different views on life.
The Prime Minister highlighted that this may have been a hypothesis for a long time. However, as since 2015 migration has become “an invasion” and there are day-to-day experiences and facts at our disposal, “this is no longer a hypothesis, but a fact.” Crime, violence, a lack of capacity for living together, conflicts which we are able to handle, he listed.
He stressed that Hungary wanted to avoid this, and for a variety of reasons – including the courage of the Hungarian government – we had so far been able to defend ourselves against migration. Additionally, we have done so against the background of the fact that there is no unity on this in politics as the Left is pro-migration, he stated.
He said “if you want to defend yourself against migration, don’t let migrants in,” meaning that “you should only let those people into the territory of your own country who submitted an application, you assessed that application and granted it.”
However, if “you let them in first, and then start proceedings, how will you make them leave? You won’t.” This is what the migration crisis is about, he added.
He stated that we must say no, “and if you say no, they won’t come, they won’t set out, they won’t drown, there will be no human tragedies.” Rather than bringing trouble here, help must be taken over there, he laid down.
He observed that Hungary was ready to take part in the stabilisation of the situation in the regions concerned, including in the Sahel region, and to also provide economic, health care and military assistance.
The Prime Minister said “the most painful development is not the Germans switching sides because – after all – since World War II, Germany has been a country with limited independence.” The real surprise is that “the Slovaks have changed sides,” despite the fact that they had previously always aligned themselves with the Hungarian and Polish position.
He added that this is a problem because the Polish-Hungarian cooperation against migration is successful if there is geographical continuity, “if we are able to guarantee an uninterrupted strip of land,” and this front is the migration front line. Any country that jumps this ship is a problem, Mr Orbán added.