It would be tragic if EU also extended sanctions to gas and nuclear energy
It would have tragic consequences for Hungary if the EU were to also extend the sanctions against Russia to gas and nuclear energy, and so we must obtain exemption from such a decision, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stressed on Friday on Kossuth Radio’s programme ‘Good morning, Hungary’.
He also said Hungary rejects the introduction of a global minimum tax as well as the idea of the European Union financing the ongoing functioning of the Ukrainian State from a collective debt.
He recalled that at the beginning of the war the idea was that through the sanctions, we would be able to bring the conflict to an end and to get closer to the end of the war. However, these sanctions “have not taken us a millimetre closer” to the end of the war.
Mr Orbán highlighted that we are facing a difficult winter, Ukraine is an ever more difficult situation, and while Russia is experiencing difficulties, its energy revenues are at a peak, and so the policy of sanctions has not achieved its goal.
He observed that the ban on the importation of oil taking effect on 5 December does not apply to Hungary, we will have continued access to the oil that is necessary for the functioning of the country, but we ourselves will not be able to remove ourselves from the price-boosting effect of the sanctions.
He said in the negotiations so far Hungary has always achieved its own national goals, and so we are taking part in the debate on the ninth package with high hopes. However, “pressure is ongoing,” we can expect ever further packages, and therefore we must keep fighting in order to protect our interests, he said, indicating that this is one of the reasons why the government asked the Hungarian people to state their opinion on this topic in the national consultation. Regarding the fact that more than a million people have already sent back the questionnaire, he said the country has understood that the success of the 2023 business year and the extent of our economic difficulties will depend on energy prices and the sanctions.
He pointed out that Hungary did not support the idea of the European Union financing the ongoing functioning of the Ukrainian State from collective borrowing. The Hungarian government takes the view that the Member States should support this cause via bilateral agreements.
We would not like the European Union to turn from a community of cooperating Member States into a community of states ending up in collective debt, the Prime Minister underlined.
He said Hungary in general does not support a policy which would be based on collective EU borrowing. He argued that the consequences of such “a debt community will be suffered not only by our children, but even by our grandchildren,” and additionally, we will also have to repay the loans of the states that may become insolvent in the process.
Ukraine has found itself in a situation where, due to the war, it is not even able to operate as a state. “We accept the need for financial support, even if it doesn’t make us happy; if there was no war, we wouldn’t have this expense either,” he stated.
The Prime Minister also said the global minimum tax is “a job-killer tax raise”; if it were introduced, jobs in the tens of thousands would be lost in Hungary. We cannot afford this, he highlighted, adding that the issue of taxation is an issue that falls within national, not global competence.
Every country itself must decide what regime of taxation to operate. Electors like democracy for the very reason that they are able to decide on the government to enter into office depending on the policy of taxation they offer, he said. If we were to surrender this, we would also surrender the Hungarian people’s right to determine a material element of Hungary’s economic policy, namely, the policy of taxation, and so we believe that a global minimum tax is not a good idea either for jobs or for democracy. Therefore, we will not consent to its introduction in Hungary, the Prime Minister stated.
In continuation, he said Brussels is unfair towards Hungary due to differences on fundamental issues. He highlighted that there were evident political reasons for the fact that Brussels had not approved the Hungarian recovery plan for a year and a half.
There are differences on fundamental issues between Brussels and Hungary, “and so they don’t like the Hungarian government.” In the parliamentary elections, Brussels wanted a left-wing government to win; this is why rather than giving money to the country, they “threw dollars at the Left to enable them to win the elections,” he said, adding that as despite this the elections were won by the Right, the Commission had no choice but to engage in meaningful talks with Hungary.
He stressed that we need patience because despite the fact that they are unfair to Hungary and keep coming up with new demands, “we must strive to reach an agreement.” He pointed out at the same time that on some fundamental issues, including the issues of migration, not allowing sexual propagandists into our schools and the sanctions, Hungary is both unable and unwilling to change its position.
Also in the year ahead, the government will be working hard to protect the reduction of household energy bills for families because without this every Hungarian family would pay HUF 181,000 more a month on average, Mr Orbán stressed.
He said it is imperative to put each and every forint into the reduction of household energy bills fund next year in order to protect families against energy prices that have “rocketed sky-high” in consequence of the sanctions.
He highlighted that if next year businesses do a good job, workers do a good job and the government also does a good job, together they will be able to prevent the Hungarian economy from falling into recession and maintain economic growth. He added that they are expecting a growth rate of one and a half per cent, and if that goal is achieved, then they will be able to protect the reduction of household energy bills for families.