The Prime Minister indicated that the EU, including Hungary, is investing billions of euros in vaccine research, but for the time being not even the President of the European Commission was able to tell when a vaccine could be released. Things are at a standstill, “it won’t happen any sooner than the middle of next year”.
Mr Orbán said “we have seven months behind us, seven months ahead of us, meaning that we are heading out of the tunnel […], in a month or two we could start the countdown”. “Relief” will reach Hungary sometime around May, June to July, he said.
Regarding the fight against the economic impacts of the epidemic, he said Hungary – as it has a workfare economy – has placed the emphasis on jobs and investments, and not only on corporate, but also family investments.
The government shares the view that the biggest economic threat lies in a ‘wait-and-see’ approach as the economy comes to a halt if businesses and families postpone their investments and purchases. This is why the cabinet has given more than 900 businesses a very large sum of money for investment, this “has resulted in investments worth more than HUF 300 to 400 billion” and has saved 155,000 jobs, he argued.
In order to activate family investments, they are now starting a construction industry and housing ‘engine’ because housing and the refurbishment of homes are the largest family investments, Mr Orbán said.
Therefore, the 5 per cent VAT on housing construction projects – in combination with several further measures such as the home refurbishment benefit – is the next step of the government’s crisis management logic, he indicated.
The Prime Minister also spoke about the containment of the virus in Hungarian health care, pointing out that in the spring Hungary was among the countries that fought best against the epidemic, and as we did it once before, “we will be able to succeed in the second wave as well”.
In this situation, victory means, he continued, that the health care system endures the extreme care load until a vaccine is released.
In his view, the more successful the containment effort, the later the time will come – if it has to come at all – when elective procedures must be postponed.
In the next three weeks, no such measures should be expected, he said.
Regarding the fact that Parliament unanimously adopted the law on the pay rises of physicians, Mr Orbán said this voting result appears to be surprising because not only are the Left not assisting with the fight against the virus, but they are actively working against it, attacking key players of the containment process and generating fake videos.
The Left should be an opposition not to the country, but to the government. However, the fact that during the epidemic they are not supporting our joint defence effort means that they are acting against the country, he said.
He highlighted that first, in 2018, they decided on the pay rises of nurses, next on the refurbishment of hospitals, and most recently on pay rises for physicians. He underlined that they had accepted the proposals of the Chamber of Doctors about pay rises and the elimination of gratuities.
Further details, including the status of general practitioners, the issue of private practices, state employment and freedom to choose doctors, will be regulated by the end of the year, he said.
The Prime Minister said in response to criticisms levelled at Hungary, including in connection with corruption, by German Vice President of the European Parliament Katarina Barley that for decades the situation has been that if the Left see a dangerous person – “I don’t want to boast, but this is what it’s about in my case” – they try to “hunt them down”. He recalled that in 1989 the communists spread rumours about him, claiming that he returned home from Oxford in a white Mercedes.
He said it is a left-wing knee-jerk reaction that they accuse right-wing politicians of corruption which in his view is “effective” because people always approximate from their own experience, and while they do not know whether corruption did take place, it is certain that it could have.
“Naturally, you then stand up for your integrity, you defend yourself, you eventually win an election, this is why I’m sitting here now myself,” Mr Orbán added.
He said corruption in the German-speaking countries is higher than in Hungary, “this is the pot calling the kettle black”.
“Let’s take a look at Austria, or the Germans,” he said, mentioning the series of global money laundering scandals with an enormous German bank at its centre.
In the Scandinavian countries “preaching” about corruption, two or three large banks have gone under, bringing down with them several smaller ones in the process, he added.
Therefore, he does not like it, he continued, when Westerners adopt the position that they are flawless – just because they are from the West – as regards corruption, among others, while Central Europeans are corrupt – just because they are from Central Europe.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. None of us are flawless, but none of us are guilty as a matter of course,” he said, stating in summary that the EU funds invested in the Hungarian economy have been used well.
The Prime Minister referred to George Soros as the common denominator behind international attacks; he “buys Western European politicians” in order to make money and increase his influence.
In the European Commission, too, there are some who “eat out of the palm of his hand,” he said, stating that “as long as George Soros has such influence in the EU, we must state loud and clear that the EU is corrupt,” and when “they finally get rid of him” that will be a major step in the fight against corruption.
In answer to a question regarding the fact that George Soros called upon the EU to punish Hungary, the Prime Minister said “there is an open battle, he has his people in there and he issued the command”.
He said the Left take pleasure in combining forces with strangers against their own kind; in this instance, with the Germans and Czech Vice President of the Commission Vera Jourová.
“For at least a hundred years, the Left have taken sides with strangers against their own kind,” he said.