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Prime Minister expresses outrage at European Commission’s proposal

The Prime Minister was speaking on Kossuth Rádió’s programme “180 Minutes”. To put his point in context, he said that on average each Hungarian receives approximately four thousand euros in funding from Brussels over the course of seven years. He also said that EUR 250,000 is equivalent to thirty-nine years’ salary for the average working Hungarian. Mr. Orbán said that the European Commission’s “punitive” proposal is both “a kick in the teeth” and “a punch to the solar plexus”. He added that “it is hard to express one’s outrage in civilised language”, and that “there has never before been a more powerful piece of propaganda against the idea of the European Union” than the Commission’s proposal. In his opinion, leaders in Brussels “are sitting in an ivory tower, far away from the world, with no concept of reality, and without the faintest idea of what they are talking about”.

Speaking about the Brussels proposal for automatic distribution of migrants among the Member States, Mr. Orbán said that the “pro-resettlement left” has always denied the existence of a “forced resettlement” plan. Now, however, the European Commission itself has made it public. The Prime Minister asked everyone to join in the resistance to forced resettlement, saying that “The stakes are high: this is about a plan to deprive the Hungarian people of the right to decide whom we wish to live together with and whom we do not wish to live together with; others want to transfer this right somewhere else, to a foreign land, to a city somewhere called Brussels”.

The Prime Minister branded the European Commission’s proposal as a complete mistake, as in his view the body is addressing an asylum question, despite the fact that “our problem is not the distribution of refugees, but protection of the borders”. Outlining the initiative embodied in his Schengen 2.0 action plan, Mr. Orbán said that we must strengthen protection of the borders, no one should be allowed to enter without checks, and refugee camps must be set up outside the EU.

The Prime Minister also said that on the refugee issue the Hungarians have shown the highest level of solidarity, but “I have been reluctant to send a bill to Brussels for the costs of registering 175,000 asylum-seekers […], the additional operational costs for the Hungarian police […]  and the construction costs of the border fence”. He stated that “We are behaving in a European manner”, and that in Hungary and Central Europe as a whole, “we are on top of the situation, and in control of events […], here we shall not consent to the overnight disappearance of our cultural heritage, and here we shall not tolerate parallel societies”.

Mr. Orbán described the question of the planned referendum on mandatory resettlement quotas as clear, simple and understandable. He said that he has been given “the authority to say ‘no’”, but his word is worth less than that of the population of Hungary, and that “We are calling this referendum in order to stop Brussels”.

Commenting on former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana’s statement that if Hungary were seeking admission to the European Union today it would be refused, the Prime Minister said that “we know the former NATO Secretary General […] he is an old communist”.

2017 budget points towards civic consolidation 

Mr. Orbán described next year’s budget as one which points towards civic consolidation, and with which everyone can take a step forward. Speaking about pensioners, he pointed out that back in 2010 the Government had entered into an agreement with them, according to which the value of pensions would be preserved, and the Government has delivered on its promise. He said that the reduction of household utility bills and the raising of pensions have offset the “losses” sustained before 2010, when the former government withdrew the annual extra month’s pension bonus, and when the value of pensions fell continuously.

Mr. Orbán said that in addition to the pension increase in the budget there is effectively a second pension increase given by the reduction in VAT on certain foods; this reduces household living expenses. Regarding the 2.4 per cent deficit planned for 2017, he indicated that, as a result, “we will remain well within the boundaries of the agreement reached with the EU”.

The Prime Minister also spoke about the pay of public employees. He said that a career model system has been introduced, and salaries in the police force and the military have been raised significantly, “as security comes first”. These were followed by rises for teachers, he continued, because “the future comes second”, and now it is the turn of those working in public administration as “order is the third most important thing”. This will be followed by adjustments for healthcare sector workers, and this year the Government will also act in the interest of those working in the social sector and in the field of culture, he said.

Regarding health care, Mr. Orbán said that “the healthcare budget is, in fact, not the budget for health care”, but that for treatment, as “we are spending more on health than the total in the healthcare budget”. For instance, daily physical education in schools and projects which “promote a healthy lifestyle” also serve to preserve people’s health, he said. In other words, if we adopted a more inclusive approach, these could easily be classified within healthcare spending, Mr. Orbán said.