Mr Orbán said in Europe there are wartime prices, no one would have thought on 24 February this year that not only had a conflict war broken out between Ukraine and Russia, but that with that an entire era would come to an end, and European history would enter a new era: we have entered an era of wars.
He added that this war is being waged not only on the fronts, but equally in the world economy, or at least in the European economy, and the raising of energy prices is a part of that. Now we must fight for everything that we have taken for granted so far.
The Prime Minister said with all probability there will be two major battles: in his view, a battle to be fought for energy, costs of living and bearable household energy prices, and there will also be another one for jobs because according to all conceivable forecasts, due to the combined effect of the policy of sanctions and the war, the European economy will slide into recession.
He stressed that while in Hungary there was still a shortage of work force, he advised everyone who had jobs to appreciate them and to do everything they could to keep them because in the coming months we would have to expect an economic decline in Europe.
Mr Orbán said “today, however, we are going through the first battle” which is being fought for energy; due to the war, the price of electrcity has increased five-fold, while the price of gas six-fold.
He took the view that it would be key for people in Brussels to realise that a mistake was made, the policy of sanctions has not come up to expectations, and has, in fact, induced an effect contrary to the original plans.
He said they believed that the policy of sanctions would hurt the Russians more than the Europeans, but “it hurts us more”. They thought that with the aid of the policy of sanctions, the war could be shortened because by weakening Russia, results could be achieved quickly. However, this assumption, too, proved to be wrong, and the war is becoming prolonged, he pointed out.
He said “initially I thought that we had only shot ourselves in the foot, but now we can see that the European economy shot itself in the lung and is now gasping for air”. There are places where this means that there will be no energy, and there will be countries where there will be gas, but its price will be very high, and “we fall into the latter category,” he stated.
The Prime Minister said a state of energy emergency had to be instated, and additionally, he also ordered the establishment of an operational group to be headed by Gergely Gulyás, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Prime Minister highlighted that “in the interest of the reduction of household energy bills, we had to deal with the quantities that are above the average consumption,” meaning that “we are trying to save the reduction of household energy bills” in such a way that those who consume an average quantity of energy should continue to have access to reduced energy bills; however, those who consume energy above the average will have to pay the market price or – if they can – should come back down to below the average level. “In the present circumstances, we are compelled to charge the actual prices for above-average consumption; if we didn’t do so, we would be compelled to do away with the entire policy of the reduction of household energy bills,” he stressed.
He also said Hungary is in a more difficult situation than richer countries in the West because while it is true that over there, there is no reduction of household energy bills and so they are paying the full price, even the payment of the full price constitutes a smaller percentage of their income than it does in Hungary. The Left never supported the reduction of household energy bills, “we introduced it” and it was maintained for the entire population for a long time. “Now, we’re able to protect it up to the extent of the average consumption,” he stated.
He further pointed out that with the ‘kata’ tax introduced for micro-businesses, the government wanted to create a simple and easily manageable form of taxation for small businesses that provide services for members of the public. However, companies realised that it made sense to force their employees to “change over to kata’” and today around 300,000 of the 450,000 ‘kata’ taxpayers bill services to businesses, meaning that these are mostly feigned contracts for work, he explained, adding that now that there is a war and we must think in terms of war logic, “this can no longer be accommodated”.
He highlighted that the right answer to the present war situation lies in unity, rather than in political profiteering.
Mr Orbán criticised the left-wing opposition, taking the view that in the election campaign they proved that they could not be trusted with the management of the country, especially not in war circumstances. He added that they had lost the elections, and so far “they sat in silence;” now, however, that the first measure was introduced that affects some who find that this hurts their interests and are opposed to the government’s decisions, the Left immediately decided to “ride” this wave.
In his view, the situation will be the same also in the future; the opposition will hijack every single measure that could be questioned or disputed, and will try to stir up anti-government feelings because they want to gain a political advantage from this situation.
He said: he believes this is a very poor policy because given that there is a war under way, the solution lies in unity.
Therefore, he asked ‘kata’ taxpayers and households taking advantage of the reduction of household energy bills to understand what is happening now, and to help to protect the country’s continued functioning, people’s living standards, jobs and pensions amidst such a war situation.
The Prime Minister said the pace of developments in the army must be accelerated two- to three-fold. In the coming days, he will sign the decrees which will place additional resources at the disposal of the army, he added.
He said “we also have a Southern border problem” and “over there, the situation is becoming ever more serious”. Under such circumstances, using soldiers for border protection is a luxury we can scarcely afford. At the same time, police officers will not be able to hold on for much longer because they are directed to the border from different parts of the country, he explained. He added that this afternoon he would sign the decree on the establishment of border hunter units.