It cannot be ruled out that we will once look back on 2022 as the year when we entered the era of dangers, but Hungary has responded actively to all the threats, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said.
It’s too early to judge, but we could have entered the era of dangers in 2022. The pandemic was followed by armed conflict, then an energy crisis, sanctions causing inflation, while migratory pressure is increasing. The war seems to be dragging on and getting bloodier, so “in a few years’ time, it may turn out that 2022 was the year when we, Europeans, entered the era of dangers,” Hungarian PM Viktor Orban said in a radio interview.
People need to decide for themselves how they relate to the threat, Mr Orban said. One possibility is that they turn defensive, curling up like hedgehogs.
Some European leaders are like that, but this kind of attitude is paralysing. We must respond actively to threats, as we did in 2020 and last year,
PM Orban explained, adding that “we don’t just want to survive, we’re building defensive lines. We are all having to pay more because of the punitive energy prices, but the government has not responded by charging these on to people, but by setting up a utilities protection fund to help protect families. This is the best example of active defence, and this is what the premier expects from the country and the government. Thanks to our utility fees protection scheme, families have saved 181 thousand forints a month, which they don’t have in their hands, the postman didn’t bring it to them, but no one came to take it away from them,”
Mr Orban said. Speaking about the European debates on sanctions, he stressed that he is waiting for someone to stand up and admit that we have made a mistake, which would immediately bring down energy prices and halve inflation.
Currently, however, there is not a single leader who’s strong enough to do this, Mr Orban opined. Hungary is leading the way in terms of courage, but we are not strong enough to turn European politics around. We are only trying to restrain the process so, without the strength and the courage, Europe’s woes will continue in the coming period.
The sanctions are grossly misguided, and the case has also damaged people’s faith in German engineering precision, since it is clear that the sanctions have been introduced with the help of the German government, and under a German Commission President, PM Orban pointed out.
In Hungary, the state-sponsored utility fees protection scheme provides each family with the equivalent of 450 euros a month, something that Brussels does not believe, PM Orban said, adding that if the system was to be extended to Belgian, Spanish and French families, it would be an impossible mission, as it would be “very expensive”. These funds, he continued, must be collected, taken away in the form of extra profits, and the big companies “must understand that this is a temporary measure, this is the key,” PM Orban underlined.
In the West, however, they cannot do it, because they are not strong enough for that.
“What follows is that European people are the victims of the sanctions policy and the war. Europe certainly loses in the present situation, the US certainly wins, whereas the outcome for Russia is uncertain. The biggest loser is Europe,”
the prime minister emphasized.
Speaking about the case of the Erasmus scholarships, PM Orban said the students should continue with their preparations as before,” because they will suffer no disadvantages. It is an investment by the nation, as it is “a national interest that we have smart students who bring home knowledge from abroad,” he said.
He added that he found it unfathomable that there are people in Brussels who want to take revenge on children to settle a dispute.
Brussels has one goal, PM Orban said: they want a change of government in Hungary. Brussels has an idea on migration or, for example, on how we should raise our children. The Hungarian government, however, will not budge on theses issues.
“This was the goal of Brusselites even before the elections, and this is why the Hungarian Left had received monies from abroad”
he added. Hungarian voters, however, decided otherwise. This is why Brussels now has to deal with this government, for which they are trying to punish the Hungarian youth.
This is the underlying background behind the current suspension of the Erasmus program, PM Orban said, adding that the Hungarian state has never had such a high amount of financial reserves as it does now.
Regarding the amendment of the 2023 budget, he said the most important thing was that if there is work, there is everything. This is the foundation of Hungary’s economic strategy, and the primary task of the government is to guarantee this. The government has succeeded in ensuring that the number of employed today is over 1 million people more than in 2010.
Albeit 2022 was the year of dangers, employment is at a record high. Never before has the sum of investments been so high as during last year, either. Due to the energy crisis, companies also have to transform and work to ward off the negative effects, and the government also takes its fair share in helping economic actors. The premier called the protection of jobs the most important task for 2023.
In terms of real wages, Hungary was the only country in the third quarter of 2022 where they increased, but this falls outside of the government’s scope of action. The minimum is the result of an agreement between employers and employees, the government only acts as a mediator in this issue.
“We are not hedgehogs, we are putting up an active defence,”
PM Orban said, adding that the government is accused of many things, but laziness is not one of them, so they will work to prevent a decrease in economic output. The Hungarian government must start the year with ambitious goals, and one of these is to bring down the inflation into single digits. Its second goal is to avoid sliding into recession, and to achieve economic growth in 2023, too.