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We could return special mandate to Parliament at the end of May

He recalled that the special legal order created in Hungary had given authorisation to the government and the prime minister to swiftly adopt grave and difficult decisions necessitated by the epidemic. The cabinet accepted this responsibility, and two to three decisions have yet to be adopted, he said.

After returning the special authority, “we will give everyone a chance to apologise to Hungary for the untrue accusations,” and to acknowledge the success of the Hungarian containment effort, Mr Orbán added, stating that “we have defended our country successfully; our performance withstands the test of comparison with any country. We did this within democratic boundaries, and after returning our special mandate, we will return to the ordinary parliamentary framework”.

He also said in the coming weeks Hungary will emerge from the debates in the EU morally and spiritually stronger.

Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI

The Prime Minister highlighted that countries which had given their governments special powers had managed the epidemic crisis more successfully than those which had not stepped out of the usual political decision-making mechanism.

In answer to a question about international cooperation related to the coronavirus epidemic, he said “There were hitches in the West, Eastern cooperation worked, while Central European cooperation has made us stronger”.

Regarding the EU, he said he sincerely hopes that in the second battle for the restarting of the economy its performance will be better than in the management of the crisis brought on by the epidemic.

At the same time, Hungary has built an aerial bridge with China via which 120 planes of consignments have arrived in Hungary, and as a result, we have managed to accumulate stocks of supplies which will be sufficient, according to scientists, for the successful containment of a possible second wave of the epidemic in October or November, Mr Orbán stated.

Regional cooperation, too, has passed the test with flying colours, he stressed in the context of the containment of the epidemic in Central Europe.

Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI

Regarding his working visit to Belgrade, the Prime Minister said he had travelled to the Serbian capital for mutual encouragement. Both Hungary and Serbia have won the first battle, both countries have managed to contain the coronavirus epidemic. A second battle is about to begin, the restarting of the economy, and in this we must encourage one another, he stressed.

In the context of Hungarian-Serbian relations, he indicated that last year the volume of trade between the two countries had broken all previous records, and cargo traffic as well as cross-border commuting between Hungary and Serbia were ongoing also at present.

He reassured Serbia of Hungary’s support of Serbian investments in Hungary, while regarding the construction of the Budapest-Belgrade railway line, he said it, too, had entered a swifter phase. “Everyone could see for themselves that forwarding Chinese goods to Europe is a key issue of the future, and the railway line will help to accelerate this process,” he said.

Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI

He added that a joint gas pipeline construction project was also on the agenda, and a situation could arise where Hungary could also receive gas from the territory of Serbia which has so far only worked the other way around.

He observed that Hungary would have to pull itself together if it wanted to remain in competition with Serbia regarding the pace of economic growth.

Mr Orbán confirmed that Hungary was a committed supporter of Serbia’s European integration aspirations, and he expected Brussels institutions to open the chapters of negotiations which Serbia was ready for.

The Prime Minister said Europe must reckon with Serbia again, “Serbia has regained its authority, and has returned to European politics”. He welcomed this because an ever stronger Serbia could play a part in the stability of the Balkans. “Today the EU needs Serbia more than Serbia needs the EU,” he highlighted, asking for equal treatment for Belgrade.