The Prime Minister highlighted that on the occasion of each and every international meeting, Hungary has to stand up for its own national interests time and again.
“This is why it’s not indifferent what government Hungary has; whether it has a government which stands up for the national interests, or a government which wants to swim with the big countries or other countries that radiate an air of authority to them, in a subordinated role,” he said.
Regarding the present situation, the Prime Minister took the view that there are countries which say that this is a war they themselves want to be a party to. However, the Hungarians say that there is a Russia-Ukraine war that is being waged right next door to us; we cannot be indifferent as there is human suffering and there are millions of people in trouble. At the same time, there are Hungarian interests which a war taking place in our immediate vicinity could jeopardise.
“Meaning that we’re in a dangerous situation, but we’re on Hungary’s side, and are looking upon this situation with a Hungarian’s mind, from a Hungarian point of view,” Mr Orbán stated.
He highlighted that there are countries which would like NATO or the European Union to become to some extent – or even to a significant extent – involved in this conflict, and there are countries, including Hungary that want to be left out of it.
According to the Prime Minister, it was clearly revealed at the NATO summit that there are more countries behind the Hungarian position, and therefore NATO openly declared: it is not a party to this war, does not want to take part in it, wants to be left out of it, will send neither weapons nor soldiers, and will likewise not impose a no-fly zone. He added that if there are Member States that want to go beyond this and want to do something at their own responsibility, NATO will not stop them.
In the context of the talks conducted at the EU summit with respect to economic sanctions, he said it is an understandable proposition that if they want to help the Ukrainians and want peace as soon as possible, then they have to make it clear to the Russians that pursuing this war is not in their best interests. He regards this as a fair endeavour because in his view, too, what is most important today is to have peace. “We’re on the side of peace,” he stated, adding at the same time that peace cannot be achieved by adopting sanctions which “hurt us more than the Russians”.
If the sanctions are extended to energy, a situation will arise in which the Hungarian economy will find itself under unbearable pressure, and meanwhile “this will probably not harm the Russians an iota”.
Hungary made it clear that the extension of the sanctions to the energy system is not a suitable means for taking steps towards peace, we must do so in different ways, fundamentally through diplomatic talks, he stressed.
Mr Orbán highlighted that as these proposals keep re-emerging, Hungary must stand up for its own national interests time and again at every single international meeting.
He said today everyone speaks about Poland and Hungary, earlier subjected to much criticism, “in words of the highest praise”. Everyone can see the enormous burden that the Polish and Hungarian people are shouldering as Poland has received two and a half million refugees, while Hungary more than 500,000.
He praised the work of volunteers, civil-society organisations and churches helping refugees, also stressing that it this time it does not matter what disputes we previously had with the Ukrainians, for instance, on the issue of the Hungarian minority because they are in trouble now, and so we are helping them.
He indicated that he had urged Brussels to provide access to the funds available to Hungary within the shortest possible time, and an answer had already been received from the Commission: the first EUR 300 million (more than HUF 100 billion) will be made available to Hungary much more flexibly, much more swiftly and with much more freedom, compared with earlier goals, in its utilisation. For all this we have our volunteers to thank, the country itself has earned this appreciation, he stressed.
Commenting on the fact that the Ukrainian president was satisfied neither with NATO, nor with the EU, and that he also appealed to and criticised him, Mr Orbán said in a situation like this we must understand Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy; in a situation like this, he would like the whole world not only to share their pain and not only to help refugees, but to adopt the Ukrainian position and to intervene immediately. Ukraine is in a difficult situation, there is a war in its territory, millions of people are compelled to leave the country. “This must be a heart-rending, a very difficult feeling,” Mr Orbán said.
In his view, it is perfectly understandable from the Ukrainians’ point of view that they are asking NATO to go in, to take on an aerial fight, and to send weapons. At the same time, “we’re not Ukrainians, we’re not Russians, we’re Hungarians,” he observed.
“The answer to the question of where Hungary stands is that Hungary stands on Hungary’s side,” the Prime Minister stated.
Mr Orbán stressed that beyond helping the Ukrainian people – and of this the Ukrainian president himself should be mindful – Hungary does not want to become involved in this war because this is contrary to the Hungarian national interests.
The Prime Minister also said Hungary is a member of NATO, and NATO is united and strong. “In fact, NATO is very strong. Much stronger than Russia,” he laid down.
According to Mr Orbán, if the Hungarians themselves do what they have to do, have an army and deploy it at the border, if everyone can see that “we’re ready to defend ourselves,” then the other ally countries, too, will help us. “Like this, together we’re stronger than anyone else in the world today,” he stated, adding that there is no greater security guarantee than this at present.
He took the view that by all human calculations, today there is no safer place on Earth than the territories of NATO Member States, including Hungary.
But at the same time, this is a war, and it is right next door to us, and so “we must keep our wits about us”. Strategic calm, composure, predictability, the precise definition of the Hungarian interests and action taken accordingly are decisive at this time. He added at the same time that as far as he can see Hungary has possessed these virtues so far.
Regarding energy prices, Mr Orbán said also regardless of the war, energy prices had been rising in recent months, and the situation was only “aggravated by the war”. In his view, they cannot just sit back and do nothing about this, and this is why the Hungarian government imposed a cap on the prices of fuel and fundamental foodstuffs, and is defending the reduction of household energy prices.
At the same time, the Prime Minister took the view that the answers given on a national basis will not be enough, there is a need for a common European answer. In his view, one of the reasons for the rise in energy prices is the policy that is being pursued in Brussels, and that “is intentionally and continually raising energy prices” because it is based on the tenet that if prices are higher, then people will consume less energy and with this we can save our planet.
Therefore, he urged Brussels to suspend “the Brussels policy that is based on the raising of energy prices” for the duration of the war. In his view, they must not penalise energy derived either from coal, oil or gas because “today the question is not what will happen to the climate; today the question is what will happen to our families”. This will be an issue for the battles of the coming weeks, Mr Orbán said.