Internal Affairs / There will be peace when someone creates peace 
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There will be peace when someone creates peace 

Peace will not happen of its own accord; there will be peace if someone creates peace, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stated in the context of the war in Ukraine on Friday on Kossuth Radio’s programme ‘Good morning Hungary.’ 

Mr Orbán stressed that Hungary holding the rotating EU presidency did not have the mandate to engage in talks on behalf of the European Union, “I wouldn’t even dream of it.” The Prime Minister said he can, however, explore the situation to find out how far each party is willing and able to go, and once that assessment has been made, the leaders of the 27 Member States of the European Union could make a decision. And once a decision has been made, those who have the mandate will engage in talks. However, we are a long way from this, we can only take the very first steps on the path leading to peace, he said. 

Mr Orbán pointed out that Europe should hold in her hand a compass of peace and humanity, a compass of humane thinking and a humane foreign policy, and could probably do more in order to help the parties move in the direction of peace. 

Regarding his meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday, he said Hungary must know its place and weight: the big countries will take care of the issue of peace talks. Today, however, there is no dialogue, and without a dialogue it is very difficult to see how they will move in the direction of peace, he added. 

The Prime Minister stressed that he was doing one thing: he was going to places where there was a threat of war which could also have negative consequences for Europe and Hungary in order to clarify the facts. He said he asked Mr Zelenskyy himself three or four questions in order to better understand his intentions: where the red line lies, how far he is able to go in the interest of peace. The Prime Minister added that unless these facts were assessed, they would not be able to move closer to peace because “peace won’t happen of its own accord.”

There will be peace if someone creates peace, you must take steps for peace,

he said. 

According to Mr Orbán, Hungary can serve as “a good means” in the hands of the people who want peace. The positions of the parties are very far from each other at this point in time, but Hungary could start the parties on a long path which could eventually lead to a ceasefire and peace talks, he explained. The Prime Minister said regarding the issue of peace talks or a ceasefire, President Zelenskyy was not best pleased as everyone is concerned that when they agree to a ceasefire, it will be exploited by the other party. In general, warring parties tend to believe that the ceasefire will favour the other side because while they themselves stop shooting, the other side will rearrange its troops and will regroup, and they will find themselves at a disadvantage; therefore, it is better to maintain the tensions on the frontline, he added. 

Mr Orbán said it is possible to get over this if there is a prospect of some kind offered to the parties, if they know that there will be peace talks in a few weeks’ or months’ time. He also said there are all sorts of surveys now that Europe has decided “to become involved” in the war on Ukraine’s side. At the same time, talk of the war and surveys are also part of the war, meaning that they are manipulated, or one finds it hard to believe them at the very least. 

The Prime Minister spoke about his visits to Berlin, Rome and Paris which served in preparation for the Hungarian EU presidency, and then about his trip to Kiev. He said during these visits he also spoke to ordinary citizens, not only to politicians and decision-makers. He highlighted that he had seen two things: on the one hand, there is moral pressure because the people believe that Europe has been about peace to date. Therefore, once a war has broken out in its immediate neighbourhood – which should never have happened in the first place – Europe should do more to ease the war tension. They believe that we are waiting for America too much, instead of taking steps ourselves, more steps than we are taking at present. 

The second impression that he had everywhere in Europe was that the people are concerned about the impact of the war on the European economy. He added that there were livelihood hardships in Western Europe as well and there was wartime inflation everywhere. Peace would be the right step also morally, he pointed out, stressing that he himself believes so as a Hungarian, but the Germans, the French and the Russians, too, believe so. 

Regarding the outcome of the parliamentary elections in France, he said it will affect not only the number of groups in the European Parliament and their size, but also the future of the whole of Europe. He said it has been unprecedented so far for the Right in France – which has in the past few decades been cordoned off from all other French parties which have rendered them unfit for cooperation and have banned them from the realm of parties deserving of cooperation – to break through that cordon and to win not a European, but a domestic national election. “Additionally, if my understanding is correct, not by just a little, but by a lot – if my understanding of the first round is correct,” Mr Orbán said. In his view, an event of such significance is taking place in France, there will be a change, which will have an immediate impact on the entire continent. Not only on Brussels, but also on Hungarian-French relations, Mr Orbán added. 

The Prime Minister envisaged two scenarios: either the Right will win so big that they will also be able to form a government, or they will not have a big enough victory and there will be a chaotic situation which will also affect European politics. He stressed that today Marine Le Pen’s party was the largest national party delegation in the European Parliament, there was no other party with a bigger delegation, and so it was not irrelevant how they would decide about their own fate. 

Regarding the Patriots for Europe group, the Prime Minister said the founding meeting will be held on Monday where all the parties will gather together which have already decided to join, but have not yet made an announcement. “We will have a list then, and then you’ll be able to see that I wasn’t just waffling,” he said in reference to a former statement of his to the effect that they want to be the third and then the second largest force in the European Parliament.

Mr Orbán also spoke about the fact that what is now happening in the aviation business falls into the intolerable category; you cannot not get upset about it. The Prime Minister said it is not about whether aviation is organised well or not, but that even the very minimum of humanity is lacking. He stressed that most passengers had worked hard all year long to go on holiday from the money they had saved. For most of them, this is a major effort, and for most Hungarian families this is one of the highlights of the year. It is not just that organisation is poor, but that no humanity of any degree is shown at the airport and in aviation in general when they neglect to tell people what the situation is and when there are enormous delays, he added. 

What is happening at the airport is a consequence of the period before the state acquired ownership, the Prime Minister stated, adding that he sincerely hopes that when the airport is finally physically taken over, the situation will improve. And it is not only the operators of the airport that must improve because there are also problems with air traffic control and ground handling services, Mr Orbán said. He pointed out that they expected much more understanding and humanity from those who came into contact with Hungarians or tourists there. He stressed that the government had certain expectations, and he called on his ministers to enforce them. 

Regarding petrol prices, Mr Orbán said they will not tolerate the situation that people in Hungary should pay more for petrol than the average price of the neighbouring countries. He said fuel traders in Hungary must observe the relevant agreement. “There is no such thing that they maintain that price for a while, and then all of a sudden they fall out of that bracket. That’s what’s happening now,” he observed, adding – speaking more in the voice of empathy and restraint – that he wants to make it clear that now they are holding them to account over the observance of the agreement.

But we won’t say this twice. We had an agreement, it must be observed. We will not tolerate that people in Hungary should pay more for fuel than the average price of the neighbouring countries. And if reason and kind words don’t help, we will take action,

he stated. 

In the interview, the Prime Minister described the punitive tariffs planned to be imposed in the EU on the largest Chinese car manufacturers as a poor and ill-considered decision, and warned that this step would push the economy in the direction of a trade war. He stressed that therefore the best goal and highest hope was that these punitive tariffs would only be temporary – would only last for four months – and then they would be forgotten. He said the European Commission claims that the punitive tariffs are being introduced due to the interests of European car manufacturers, but the executives of large European companies – with whom Mr Orbán met in preparation for the EU presidency – “oppose this tooth and nail” and “don’t want to be shown from one side of the street to the other despite their will.” Such poor and ill-considered decisions are capable of pushing the economy towards a trade war, “the nightmare of a trade war is looming,” the Prime Minister warned, taking the view that the bureaucrats’ decision could be followed by an Eastern reaction. 

He stressed that Hungary had a vested interest in avoiding a trade war because “we earn a living” by selling what we produce in Hungary around the whole world. However, if there is a trade war, we will not be able to sell the products manufactured in Hungary, and this could eventually even jeopardise jobs. 

Analysing the prospects of the economy, the Prime Minister said there are promising signs which must not be overestimated, but neither should they be underestimated. He described tourism as an important sector; in his opinion, “this is the best money” in the sense that the money spent by tourists in Hungary flows into the Hungarian economy and hundreds of thousands of people make a living from this. He indicated that they are trying to conclude agreements with employers which result in good wages because this is the other important means of the fight against inflation. “We burn the candle at both ends […] in order to reduce the burdens of living costs,” he said, adding that in tourism 60 per cent of bookings are Hungarian and 40 per cent are foreign which shows that Hungarians “are now able to afford something” here at home. 

He also said, in addition to the earlier housing programmes – with which they have reached 250,000 families, a million persons in total – the new home refurbishment programme could reach another 20,000 to 30,000 families. He highlighted that the latest employment data and the situation of the construction industry – where they had expected a more significant decline – are all signs that give rise to optimism, but we will see in the autumn – with the outcomes of the presidential election in the United States and the war – whether this will amount to something that is not just a collection of promising signs, but a general improvement of the situation. For this we have yet much work to do, Mr Orbán said on Kossuth Radio’s programme ‘Good morning Hungary.’ 

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