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Brussels “is preoccupied with us instead of the virus,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Friday in an interview regarding the European Union’s criticism of the government’s epidemic response bill which the parliament passed on Monday.  He also added that Hungary would resist falling into the “trap” of introducing blanket welfare measures during the novel coronavirus epidemic.

The government will soon unveil the “biggest economic stimulus plan in the country’s history”, Orbán said. Key elements of the stimulus package are job preservation and job creation, he added.

He said the government would not give up its fundamental approach of nurturing a work-based economy, and he dismissed the approach of returning to a welfare-based economy, explaining that would require the country to borrow, probably from abroad, and get backed into a place “where the IMF and financial speculators of the like of George Soros are waiting for us”.

“Let’s not give up our goals, let’s not give up what we have achieved, let’s not give up Hungary’s independence, let’s not give up the work-based economy and let’s not give up the chance to live proudly either,” he said.

“We have to fight this crisis without giving up our dreams,” Orbán said.

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Meanwhile, the prime minister said the government’s reallocation plan for how to redeploy health-care staff when the coronavirus becomes widespread was Hungary’s most important document.

As part of the plan, health-care staff will receive a 500,000 forint (EUR 1,380) bonus this year.

It is compulsory for all health staff to come under central command in a health emergency, he noted. Fully 110 dormitories for 19,820 people and 58 hotels for 5,661 people, as well as 3,543 vehicles, are on hand, he added. The authorities have prepared to feed 203,770 staff, he said.

“This is a military plan of command for a mass epidemic,” Orbán said.

Praising health-care workers and others on the frontline of the efforts to contain the virus, Orbán said an epidemic fund disbursing the bonus, other resources and containing further measures will be announced on Wednesday.

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A decision on curfew restrictions introduced last week to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus epidemic is also planned to be revealed on Wednesday. The restrictions are in force until next Saturday, and a decision will be needed as to whether to extend them or not.

“We will do so if we have to,” he added.

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Regarding the European Union’s criticism of the government’s epidemic response bill which the parliament passed on Monday, Orbán said Brussels “is preoccupied with us instead of the virus”. “We cannot have anything more important to do than saving lives. That requires cooperation and unity,” he said.

“They are sitting in a bubble in Brussels and telling us what to do instead of saving lives,” Orbán said. What’s most important, he said, was “not to rise to the provocation”.

Hungary’s parliament is working at full force and the state of emergency powers granted to the government and the prime minister are about the same as the powers of the French president in peacetime, Orbán said.

He said “a political attack” was under way because “some people would like to rob this country and acquire its resources”. “This network is headed by George Soros and his people … in Brussels from where criticism comes,” he added.

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Hungary, he said, has received practical help from member states of the Turkic Council and China, he said.

Orbán called on people to “resist” celebrating Easter with loved ones. “Easter may also be the right time to consider the ways to reorganise our lives until the vaccine for the virus is at hand,” he said.

Featured photo by Zoltán Máthé/MTI

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