While “Hungary’s government is supporting Ukraine and has a vested interest in its sovereignty and we have an interest in Russia not posing a threat to Europe’s security, we have no interest in severing all economic ties with Russia,” the prime minister told a paper.
In an interview published in Magyar Nemzet on Saturday, Viktor Orbán said “we stand on the Hungarian side of history”. He said 2022 had been the “most dangerous year since the change of regime” in 1989, as Hungary was in danger of being dragged into the conflict. “Had left-wing parties won [in the general election] in April, we would be up to our necks in it. Hungary is the only European country to have managed to stay away from this war because Hungarians voted for that,” he insisted.
Growing energy prices are another threat to Hungary, he said. The costs of energy imports have grown from 7 billion euros “before the sanctions” imposed by the European Union on Russia to 17 billion this year, he said. “If a Christmas angel wiped away energy-related sanctions, energy prices would fall immediately,” he said, adding that Hungarian inflation would also plummet and the country could plan with 5% growth rather than the current 1.5%.
The war may be drawn out for decades, Orbán said. “But Ukraine can fight only as long as the United States supports it with weapons and money… so if the Americans want peace, there will be peace,” he added. Ukraine, as a sovereign state, cannot be expected to sacrifice part of its territory for European peace, energy security and welfare, he said. “But we can decide to what extent we support them. Hungary has decided to provide humanitarian aid as this war is not our war.”
Orbán said the government planned to push inflation back into single digits by the end of next year. He called central bank governor György Matolcsy’s recent criticism of the government’s work “unusual”, adding that the governor’s job to handle inflation had put him “in a difficult spot”. At such times, “it is understandable if one chooses unorthodox ways of behaviour in public,” he said. Meanwhile, the government will make the home purchase subsidies for families (CSOK) more targeted in the second half of next year, Orbán said. The subsidies for home buyers in small localities will remain unchanged, he said. At the same time, women raising children will be exempt from personal income tax until the age of 30, he added.
In connection with a former Vice President of the European Parliament detained on suspicion of corruption, Orbán said it was time to “drain the swamp” and “revive” a proposal by Hungary to disband the current EP and replace it with an assembly of the representatives of national parliaments. “The root of the problems” is that “Hungarians and Westerners” have different visions of their future, Orbán said. “We do not want to become a country of immigrants, we don’t want to allow gender activists into our schools or dismantle the normal framework of family life, we don’t want war or sanctions, and we want to maintain our connections with the non-Western parts of the world,” he said. Referring to allegations that Hungarian opposition parties had accepted support from abroad during the spring election campaign, Orbán said “the Hungarian Left could be bought but not Hungary”. “As long as our national and political community stand together, Hungary’s independence will not be for sale,” he said.