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As the likelihood of a vaccine against the coronavirus appearing before mid-2021 is small, “we Hungarians will have to endure it … until June or July,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview on Friday.

Speaking to public broadcaster Kossuth Rádió, Orbán also commented on the economic aspects of managing the epidemic, noting that the government is focusing on jobs and investments which, he added, also include family businesses, not only corporations.

The biggest danger to the economy would be “to wait”, as the economy stops when businesses and households put investments and purchases on hold,

he said. So more than 900 companies have received 300-400 billion forints (EUR 837m-1.1bn) of central support for investments, thereby saving 155,000 jobs, he added.

Orbán referred to the government’s recent decision to cut VAT on construction to 5 percent as well as other measures such as a rebate on renovations, saying the highest value that can be got out of family investments “is always home building and renovation”, and such stimulus fitted into “the logic of crisis management”.

On the subject of epidemic protection measures, Orbán said Hungary had acquitted itself well in the spring and ranked among the top countries in terms of its defence measures.

“We can win when it comes to the second wave, too,”

he said. Hungary’s health-care system can bear the burden until a vaccine arrives, he added.

It is not expected that elective operations will have to be postponed in the next three weeks, he said.

Meanwhile, Orbán accused the opposition left wing of undermining government protection efforts, expressing his surprise, however, that it had voted for a package of health-care measures which raises doctors’ salaries while clamping down on gratuities in the sector. He added that the left wing should oppose the government “not the country”.

The prime minister vowed that outstanding issues such as the status of GPs and private practices would be resolved by the end of the year.

Referring to German EP vice-president Katarina Barley’s criticisms in connection with corruption, Orbán insisted that it was a “left-wing reflex” to accuse right-wing politicians of corruption. He added that

graft in “the German-speaking world” was “greater than in Hungary”,

and he cited global money laundering at Deutsche Bank as an example. He added that several Scandinavian banks had been plagued by graft.

Orbán said he resented “westerners taking the position that they are flawless” when it comes to corruption, “simply by virtue of being western”, while accusing central Europeans of being corrupt “because they are central European”. “This doesn’t square with reality. None of us is flawless, but none of us is guilty [before being proven so],” he said, adding that the Hungarian economy had made “good use” of the EU funds.

Orbán accused George Soros of being behind “international attacks”, saying he “buys western European politicians” as a way of growing his influence and making more money.

“As long as Soros has such huge influence in the EU, we have to say that the union is corrupt,”

he said. A big step in the fight against corruption would be to “expose” Soros, he added.

Put to him that Soros had “called on the EU to punish Hungary”, Orbán said: “There is an open battle … he has issued the order.”

featured image via Balász Mohai/MTI