“If there were no war, next year’s budget would be a much happier one,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told public radio on Friday, adding, however, that “we will protect all that is important for us in 2024 even despite the war”. He said it was “the energy of war” that had caused inflation to rise, arguing that the war had driven up energy prices worldwide. He noted the government’s commitment to push inflation into the single digits by the end of the year “no matter what”, adding that it expected an average inflation rate of 6% next year. The 2024 budget targets a public debt below 70% of GDP and a falling deficit, he said, adding that fiscal discipline was vital in times of war. The prime minister said the government would not be able to promote economic growth unless inflation was reduced, expressing hope that inflation was currently below 22%. If there were no war and if the European Union and the West saw reason and admitted “that we’re on the wrong path”, and if there were a ceasefire and peace talks, the economic situation would suddenly improve and inflation would fall to between 1-3% at a much faster pace, Orbán said.
Meanwhile, Orbán said that Hungary could “sit back” if it had completed the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant. But because of the way Brussels has been holding things up at the initiative of the left, the project is behind schedule, he added. Orbán said the war had entered a “very brutal phase”, adding that “when leftist politicians at home say that we’re at war with Russia, they don’t know what they’re talking about, they’ve lost their minds.”
“The statement ‘we are at war with Russia’ is one that no sane person would make since the second world war,” Orbán said, referring to a recent comment by Budapest’s mayor. He said the only morally acceptable position was to be pro-peace. “Hungary is not and will not be at war with Russia, certainly not as long as this government is in power, so it’s observing the war more calmly and has a more realistic view of it,” he added. Orbán said everything possible needed to be done before the start of Ukraine’s counteroffensive to convince the warring sides of the need for a ceasefire and peace talks, because “otherwise we will lose a lot of lives”.