Internal Affairs / Return of economic growth is a realistic goal for 2024

Return of economic growth is a realistic goal for 2024

The return of economic growth is a realistic goal with respect to 2024, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Wednesday in an interview given to TV2’s programme Facts. Mr Orbán also stressed that the funding of Ukraine must be taken care of outside the EU budget, or else Members, including Hungary, would find themselves at the receiving end of helping Ukraine. 

The Prime Minister said earlier he thought bringing inflation to below 10 per cent by the end of the year was an ambitious, bold goal because energy prices had “risen sky-high,” and the sanctions adopted in Brussels had only made the situation worse. 

He added that he did not rule out inflation falling to around 7 per cent by the end of December. He stressed that the budget had been planned for next year with 6 per cent inflation, but today lower inflation seemed to be a more likely scenario; it could be as low as 5 per cent. 

“I think we’re on the right track,” Mr Orbán stated.

The return of economic growth is a realistic goal with respect to the year 2024, he pointed out. He said this means that in 2023 we fought in order to stop the situation from becoming worse, while in 2024 we will be working to make the situation better. This is a different perspective, from this respect, at this point in time, 2024 appears to be a much more hopeful year than 2023 has been, he laid down. 

The Prime Minister confirmed that he did not support Ukraine’s EU accession. 

The EU had never before engaged in accession talks with a country at war, he pointed out. In his view, in this regard questions emerge such as the size of the state and whether the EU will also admit the part of Ukraine which the Russians have occupied. 

Mr Orbán said as Ukraine is a large country, the impacts of its EU accession must be calculated with “an engineer’s precision.” 

Ukraine has not even been admitted yet, and the farmers of Central Europe are already in trouble. Ukraine’s accession could destroy agriculture in this region, he added. He mentioned as a further problem that hauliers – not only Hungarians, but also Poles and Slovaks – had likewise found themselves in trouble because they had allowed Ukrainians to enter the EU market.

He found it objectionable that Brussels had not provided an objective analysis with respect to the consequences of Ukraine’s accession to the EU. He drew attention to the fact that there are only estimates, and these indicate that the amount that the EU should additionally raise from somewhere is between EUR 150 and 190 billion should they indeed want to admit Ukraine. 

He pointed out that in the event of Ukraine’s accession, all countries which had to date received funds from the EU, including Hungary, would be removed from the category of financially supported countries, and “all the money that has to date been channelled to Central Europe would flow to Ukraine,” including agricultural subsidies.

He said the EU funding to be provided for Ukraine is “a complex and difficult question,” given that – in his opinion – at this point in time there is no information about where the EUR 50 billion to be used for the purpose will come from. 

If they want to give it to Ukraine from the budget – as the plan is at present – it means that it will be missing from the budget created for the other countries; in other words, “we will also give them the money of the Hungarians,” the Prime Minister highlighted. 

He pointed out that Hungary did not want to consent to this. Therefore, they must talk about the details, including the size of the sum, the term of the grants, the source of the funding and the technique by which that sum is to be provided for Ukraine.

The Hungarian position is that this issue should be taken care of outside the budget, and should not be mixed with the budget because as a result, Members, including Hungary, will in the end find themselves at the receiving end of helping Ukraine, he laid down.

In answer to the question of what can be expected at the next EU summit due to be held next February, Mr Orbán said instead of thunder and lightning, we should expect “fire and brimstone.” 

He said the government’s goal is to ease most of the tensions already during the background talks, and to bring about a situation in Brussels where leaders should decide “about a solution that is satisfactory for everyone.” 

Mr Orbán also spoke about Hungary’s absence from the vote in the European Council for the commencement of accession talks with Ukraine.

“We should have stopped to think, to do the sums, and should have come to an agreement about whether we should embark on this adventure,” he said, adding that Hungary had to avoid a situation where the “26 hell-bent countries” would impose their will on it. What was difficult was how “to stay out of this whole thing, whilst staying alive in the meantime,” he pointed out. 

It is important to know what the European and Hungarian people think about Ukraine’s EU accession, he said, laying down in continuation that at the end of the day, people in Europe live in democracy, and so leaders must acquaint themselves with their opinions; it is for a reason that the Hungarian government places the issue of Ukraine’s EU accession at the centre of the national consultation.

He added that other than Hungary, no one wanted to, was able to or dared to consult their own citizens.

Regarding the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, he said Hungary takes the view that this is not a war of the whole world, it is an internal affair of Slavic peoples which they must resolve with each other. It is best for the world if this conflict does not escalate into a war involving the whole world, he stated.

The war has “a hot, warm, bloody dimension,” human lives are being lost, and a healthy human being can have no other aspiration than “to put an end to this, once and for all,” he said, urging a ceasefire and peace talks.

He also highlighted that Europe and Hungary suffered from three ailments all at once: the Russo-Ukrainian war, the increasing threat of terror brought about by the acts of terrorism perpetrated in Israel, and the increasing pressure of migration from the South.

“We must keep our wits about us next year, too,” Mr Orbán said. 

Answering a question relating to the behaviour of Hungarian left-wing politicians in Brussels, the Prime Minister said “one would think there are a few affairs which are national,” and on which the government should be supported, “or at least not put into a difficult situation.” Even when we talk about scholarship grants for students or the salaries of teachers for which the government is trying to raise funds, “the Left always speaks against Hungary there,” he said.

A situation has developed where the Left openly – and perhaps even proudly – says in Brussels that they are working to prevent the Hungarians from accessing the funds that the country would be entitled to from the EU budget.

“In my opinion, this is beyond the realm of sensible and normal political duels,” Mr Orbán stated.

In the context of the reasons for the drafting of the recently passed sovereignty protection legislation, the Prime Minister reiterated that the Left had received money from abroad before the 2022 elections.

“The Left knew that […] in return for this – if they were to win – they would be required to meet foreign expectations. This is utterly contrary to Hungary’s best interests, it is contrary to the ideals, the values, our history of a thousand years, in the spirit of which we want to live,” he pointed out.

In his view, the purpose of the law is to enable the Hungarian people “to decide what should happen in this country,” and to ensure that foreigners cannot influence these decisions with money.

According to the Prime Minister, the Hungarians clearly understand the connection between the two as Hungarian history itself has shown that “there are patriots who fight for the country, […] even sacrifice blood for freedom, and there are always others who betray their country.” He said that this “familiar pattern” can be observed today, too.

When asked about what we can be most proud of in 2023, the Prime Minister mentioned the Nobel Prizes of the two Hungarian scientists in first place.

He said not only because the Nobel Prize is a prestigious award, but also because it conveys an important message when someone “who was born somewhere in the Jászság-Kunság area into a family where the father was a butcher” receives a Nobel Prize for physiology. Our other Nobel laureate comes from a family in Mór where the mother raised the children at home, while the father supported the family from manual labour, he stressed.

You are grateful to your parents first and foremost, then to your teachers who taught you to read and write, you complete your studies in Hungary, you go abroad and receive the opportunity of research, including “money, a laboratory, teachers, everything you need,” and from here, from the Hungarian fallow, from Mór and from the Jászság, there are two Nobel Prizes all of a sudden, the Prime Minister said. 

Concerning the fact that the Hungarian football team qualified for the European Championship, he took the view that it was “more of a mandatory exercise.” That we had two or three poor decades should not lead us to disparaging ourselves, he pointed out. Hungary has played two World Cup finals, there are not many countries like this in the world, “this is the yardstick we measure ourselves by,” he stated. A Hungarian team, having played two World Cup finals, can be expected to qualify for a European Championship, he stressed.

Regarding preparations for the holidays, he said his number one duties include firing up the oven and putting the decoration on the top of the Christmas tree. 

In conclusion, Mr Orbán told every Hungarian as a message for next year that whatever difficulties may emerge, if you commit to a good cause and do not give up, but persevere and carry on, things will eventually turn out well. 

“I think the Hungarians know this, they just have to persevere,” said the Prime Minister.


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