Mr Orbán suggested that no decision should be made about talks regarding Ukraine’s European Union membership at the next meeting of EU leaders due to be held in two weeks’ time. The Prime Minister said it is a big mistake that the European Commission is putting pressure on the prime ministers to place this issue on the agenda.
He took the view that they must not place this issue on the agenda, and the European Commission must understand that they are responsible for the fact that the meeting has been ill-prepared. The Commission proposed that we start negotiations about Ukraine’s membership, despite the fact that this does not coincide with the best interests of a number of Member States, most certainly not with the best interests of Hungary, for one. “And we’re in a robust enough condition to have the courage to say so, no matter how much pressure they’re exerting,” he said.
He indicated that preparations did not mean “the drafting of a piece of paper which then everyone will read,” but rather that they conduct talks with everyone, take a look at the different interests and coordinate them. Once they have succeeded in coordinating them and there is a chance for agreement, then they make a proposal, he pointed out.
Mr Orbán said regarding the issue of Ukraine’s European Union membership, one can foresee that there will be no agreement, and if that is the case, we will disrupt European unity. We can defend unity by not placing on the agenda issues on which there is no agreement, he added.
He drew attention to the fact that in the Treaties of the European Union there is no mention of the word ‘veto’; instead, the Treaties lay down that there are certain issues on which a decision can only be reached if all Member States agree.
Hungary will not exercise its veto; Hungary will block decisions, he stated.
It is not that someone made a decision and we veto it; it is that there is no decision without us, he pointed out, stressing that “we are the EU.” “The EU is not in Brussels, the bureaucrats are there. The EU is in Budapest, in Warsaw, in Paris and in Berlin,” he laid down.
He stressed that we must not allow ourselves to be forced into a situation where we would have a guilty conscience about preventing the implementation of decisions adopted by others because Hungary has every right to only take part in the adoption of a decision if it coincides with the Hungarian national interests.
The Prime Minister said he will propose that the European Union first enter into a strategic partnership agreement with Ukraine. In his view, this could take 5 to 10 years, and during that time we could bring Ukraine closer to the EU. “When we see that we are able to cooperate, then we should table the issue of membership.” However, this will only be possible in many years’ time, Mr Orbán said.
He recalled that the EU had already made such a mistake; they engaged in talks with the Turks and promised them membership, but there has been no progress for 20 or 30 years. This is frustrating for everyone, and the whole affair is a failure.
He also drew attention to the fact that in the case of Ukraine there are a number of questions which they do not know the answer to, given that the country is at war, its legal and political systems function differently than in countries leading a peaceful life, and so it is impossible to determine whether it complies with the EU’s constitutional and rule of law conditions.
They are additionally also unable to determine the actual territory of Ukraine, a country they seek to admit to the EU, given that while from a legal point of view there is no doubt about Ukraine’s jurisdiction over certain parts of the country, from a military point of view, Russian troops are stationed in them. We likewise do not know the size of its population as people keep fleeing Ukraine, and nor do we know whether the integration of Ukrainian agriculture will favour the farmers of the countries that are already inside or not, he listed, adding that Hungarian farmers in the hundreds of thousands would go under if Ukrainian agriculture were made a part of the European system.
He indicated that, in the event of Ukraine’s accession, neither did they know where to raise the money necessary to support the country from because if the money were to be raised from the existing funds, that would mean that the Central European countries would forfeit certain financial resources.
The Prime Minister also laid down that, according to Hungary’s position, Ukraine should be financially supported from outside the EU budget, in a transparent manner. He said via separate intergovernmental agreements a fund should be set up with a view to supporting Ukraine to which each country would contribute at its discretion.
So far, we have given the Ukrainians a very large sum of money, more than EUR 100 billion partly in the form of weapons, and partly in the form of cash. Had we used this money for the development of Europe, today the European economies would be in better shape, the Prime Minister stressed.
“Europe is suffering from economic ailments, and meanwhile, it is spending money like there is no tomorrow, is sending weapons and money to Ukraine by the wagonload,” Mr Orbán said.
He pointed out that instead of war, we need a ceasefire. “Rather than financing the war, we should finance a ceasefire, and then peace,” he added.
In the radio interview, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán also said at the bottom of every political debate there lies the issue of sovereignty which means nothing other than that the Hungarian people alone can decide about the fate of the Hungarian people.
He stressed that there were, however, attempts at intervention also at present; the case of the dollar left and the dollar media testifies to this. Mr Orbán said they need everyone for whom Hungary’s independence and sovereignty are important as this provides support for the Hungarian government in the difficult battles. Therefore, he asked everyone to complete the national consultation questionnaire, “to devote a few minutes to their country.”
A conclusion of Hungarian history is that we have always been surrounded by large empires, and while they always wanted to take a chunk out of us, we should not be afraid of them because “countries bigger than ourselves have fallen, while we are still here, standing,” he recalled. We chose our movements to ensure that we attend the funeral of every empire, he added. Another important conclusion is that in 1,100 years the Hungarian people have proved how to fit out their own territory best. “This is our world which we are best-equipped to fit out,” he said, adding that this is why we do not want to allow others to interfere with our choices.
He recalled, however, that also within, there are some who believe that Hungary should join one empire or another; people who are prepared to sell a part or the whole of the country for money. In less fortunate times, these people are even able to enter into government: there was a Gyurcsány era when they brought in the IMF, introduced foreign currency lending, and took people’s pensions and salaries away, he pointed out. During these periods, the government’s decisions did not serve the Hungarian people’s best interests; this amounts to the violation of our sovereignty, he observed.
Mr Orbán highlighted that from time to time foreigners attempt to influence the decisions of countries similar in size to Hungary. For instance, at present, the Americans are making attempts “to pressure us into the war in Ukraine,” while economic lobbying interests also emerge from time to time. Another type of attempt to influence politics flashes up at times of elections when they try to induce people to not elect a nationally-oriented government, he stated, adding that this is what happened in the latest parliamentary elections when money provably came from Brussels and Washington to finance the Left in order to prevent the formation of a nationally-oriented government in Hungary; this was the case of the ‘rolling dollars.’ Even though this is punishable by law, they found loopholes, and so the introduction of clear regulations is in the country’s best interests, he stressed.
“We must prevent the recurrence of a situation where the Hungarian people find out after the elections that someone tried to influence their decisions with millions of dollars being funnelled to left-wing parties,” he pointed out.
He added that therefore, in the interest of protecting Hungary’s sovereignty, Parliament will have to adopt a few decisions, and we will have to take the blocking of attempts at intervention much more seriously also in the years ahead.
Regarding the economy, the Prime Minister took the view that for a long time, 2023 has been the most dangerous year due to inflation, the sanctions and the energy crisis.
He added that this year the Hungarian people “are working to prevent the situation from deteriorating, meaning: in order to be able to protect that which they have already achieved.”
At the same time, he described next year as a year full of hope, stressing that in 2024 “we will be working to improve the situation.”
He indicated that the first signs have already emerged, showing that this is not just wishful thinking, but an attainable possibility as the government will raise pensions by 6 per cent under any circumstances, even if it turns out that inflation is only 5 per cent. In February, they will be able to pay the already raised 13th monthly pension, while actors of the economy have decided on a 10 and 15 per cent increase of the minimum wage and the guaranteed wage minimum, respectively.
He said another promising sign is that the government was able to extend the system of housing support, having made the village family housing support (csok) even more preferential, having launched a new programme ‘csok plus’ for urban housing support, and having also raised the baby expecting loan.
He pointed out that it was a major achievement that the percentage of home owners among people under 40 had reached 75 per cent.
The Prime Minister also said Hungary has a vested interest in developing economic cooperation around the whole world. He added that while it is clear that we are a part of the West, “even the blind can see” that, at this point in time, the fastest-developing part of the world is situated East of us. Therefore, economic cooperation with the East is an elementary interest of Hungary, and the incumbent government’s foreign policy activities must serve this objective, he laid down.
He indicated that he travels to Switzerland one day, to Azerbaijan the next, to Argentina next week and to Brussels the week after because he seeks to expand the space available to Hungarian economic actors around the world so that they can do business abroad as successfully as possible and so that Hungary can benefit from their activities as much as possible.