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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, addressing the year-opener event of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MKIK), said it was clear from the make-up of his cabinet that it was focused on the economy. Though cabinet reshuffles within a single electoral cycle are not typical, certain changes became necessary shortly after the formation of the government last May, Orbán said. He said the change had been made because it had become clear that the sanctions imposed by Brussels had resulted in a rapid rise in energy prices, and the issue of energy had become the key to economic success and the country’s financing. This meant that an independent energy ministry was needed, Orbán said, praising the work of Energy Minister Csaba Lantos.
Unlike general European tendencies, Hungarian public debt and the deficit declined in the last three election years — 2014, 2018 and 2022, Orbán said. It is therefore “silly, dumb and malicious” to accuse the government of shaping the 2022 budget according to campaign considerations, he said. The government remains committed to market and private capital, he said. Hungary will not be able to achieve its goals without market financing, he said. The government will intervene only until market financing is restored, and will endeavour to complement missing interest and liquidity levels, he said. “But that is crisis management and not a change of direction,” he said.
Regarding the “rebuilding” of ties between Russia and Hungary, which MKIK head László Parragh welcomed in a previous speech, Orbán said those will be determined by “a reshuffle in Europe’s power structure”. That “experiment”, rather than purely economic policy considerations, will determine whether Hungary’s ties with Russia will be revived, he said. Europe is weaning itself off Russia which has so far provided cheap energy and raw materials, in exchange for modern technology, Orbán said. That energy dependence is now being “slowly but surely taken over by another,” he said. “Hungarian foreign and economic policy will have to consider what sort of relations can be created and sustained with Russia in the next 10-15 years,” he said.