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We must defend ourselves against introduction of virus from abroad

Regarding the repeated intensification of the coronavirus epidemic in several countries, Viktor Orbán said Hungary is safe, but we must defend ourselves against the introduction of the coronavirus from abroad.

In a number of neighbouring countries, including in Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Slovenia the number of infections is on the rise, and “what’s happening in Europe also has an impact on us,” the Prime Minister pointed out.

He observed that according to the investigations of the Operational Group, in the case of each new infection in Hungary there is some foreign “connection”.

We must expect the tightening of rules in Hungary; however, at this point it is not yet clear what measures are required, he said, stating that the Operational Group has been given until Friday noon to make recommendations regarding the measures that serve to protect the country from the introduction of the virus from abroad, and “we will be able to make decisions today or tomorrow”.

“More Lake Balaton, less Adriatic,” and then we will also be able to contain the epidemic, the Prime Minister said, indicating that

He said repeatedly that they are monitoring the measures adopted in Austria where the package of measures features a combination of quarantine, testing and border controls.

The EU credit package that is designed to serve Europe’s economic recovery after the coronavirus epidemic was also a topic of the interview which, Mr Orbán said, must be just and flexible, and must be free from political elements.

In the EU, especially the Left, the “big-mouth liberals” tend to threaten those they do not like with financial sanctions in connection with practices they do not approve of, the Prime Minister said, describing this as uncivilised conduct, and a dead-end street.

If any ideological or political criteria are tied to the spending of money, there is no doubt that it will not be spent well, Mr Orbán stressed, stating that political conditions cannot be mixed with economic decisions. Europe should concern itself with the restarting of the economy because evidently the debates about the rule of law turn into immediate political debates, and if the two are mixed together, there will be no recovery and there will be no budget, he said. “At this time, I would advise the big Member States and countries of the EU that regard themselves as ever so modern against this,” he pointed out.

He said by September a number of countries richer than Hungary, but financially more vulnerable than us could find themselves on their knees. He mentioned as examples Portugal – whose prime minister will pay a visit to Hungary at the beginning of next week –, Spain and France. This is why “the big ones” decided, he continued, that the EU should take out a loan regarding which he himself has “reservations” because in the minds of the Hungarian people debt is one of the most alarming things. They know the threat of debt slavery as part of the communist inheritance, given that the country became indebted in the 1980s. At the same time, when “the communists came back in a modern form as socialists,” between 2002 and 2010, the same threat emerged in the form of foreign currency loans, he added.

The Prime Minister observed that Hungary would be able to exercise its veto in the EU, but it should only do so as a last resort, and at this time he sees scope for containing the risk of borrowing. For this, they must lay down that the money provided must be used for the development of the economies, and “next that once we created this debt together – meaning that no one contributes more than others – we shouldn’t restrict one another in deciding on how to spend that money”.

Regarding the fact that according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the German EU presidency will stand up for the rule of law, and will take action against any curtailment even if it comes to Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister said “if I were German, I wouldn’t launch quite such an aggressive attack” because if we were to compare the state of the rule of law in Hungary with that in Germany, “we could well come out as victors”. He mentioned as an example that in Hungary it is inconceivable for judges of the constitutional court to be party members, while in Germany this is standard practice.

Commenting on domestic measures implemented in the economy, he said there has been a breakthrough in the development of employment. He said before the coronavirus epidemic there were 4.5 million people in employment and at the “low point” this number fell to 4,370,000; however, a few weeks ago, unemployment started decreasing again, and the number of jobs began to rise which is not a short-lived phenomenon, one can see the underlying structural causes.

He added that they have saved the jobs of more than a million people with government interventions, there are around 70,000 to 80,000 jobs created through grants provided for developments, and there are 90,000 people working in public works schemes, he listed, taking the view that the economy is slowly recovering.

At the same time, he pointed out that financial and economic crises also have delayed effects which will emerge 5 to 6 months down the line. Therefore, already now they are preparing for the eventuality that there might be another trial sometime in January.

In response to the suspended prison sentence handed down to former Hungarian ambassador to Peru Gábor Kaleta due to the possession of pornographic images involving children, he said it is necessary to adopt child protection laws which can offer parents a satisfactory response to paedophilia, the exploitation of children, drugs and the threats of the Internet.

Creating, changing and tightening legislation relating to the protection of children will be one of the most important topics of the autumn season of legislation; “we must protect our children,” the Prime Minister stated.

He sees the mild sentence handed down in the Kaleta case as proof of the fact that neither the prosecution service, nor courts are under the influence of the government because if they were, they would have handed down a “five-fold” sentence.

“In a case like this, no punishment appears to be too harsh,” he stressed, confirming that the case is not over yet because he does not want the country to feel that it has a government that keeps explaining why it is not taking action in a morally compelling situation. Therefore, they will resort to legislation.