Orbán: Coronavirus Likely to Reach Hungary but Migration Historical Challenge
MTI-Hungary Today 2020.02.28.
Hungary should be prepared for further waves of migrants and “regular, massive attacks” on its border fence in the south, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Friday, commenting on reports that Turkey has decided not to prevent any more Syrian refugees from travelling on to Europe.
Speaking on public Kossuth Radio, Orbán said that although right now all attention is on the coronavirus outbreak, migration is the historical challenge.
South-north migration is a “historic trend” in which the route across Hungary is an important section, Orbán said, adding that the next one or two decades will determine at which point that trend can be stopped. Greece “cannot and would not” protect its borders, and migrants will “rush through” that country “causing a lot of trouble to us”, he added.
Hungary’s border and its people must be protected, he said. No matter how many migrants should come, Hungary’s authorities are able to secure the borders, he added. “We don’t need to worry about Hungary’s security as long as we are united.”
Orbán also announced that preparations have started for a summit of the Visegrad Four countries and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to be held before the European Union summit in late March.
Regarding the coronavirus outbreak, Orbán said the virus was likely to reach Hungary. The Hungarian government is preparing to combat the COVID-19 virus even though there are no confirmed cases in the country as yet, he said.
Hungary has the equipment ready to identify the virus and epidemiologists of international reputation, he said. There is a 24-hour on-call system in place as well as screening protocols at border crossings, with a special focus on airports, he added.
Orbán called on Hungarians to cooperate and refrain from travelling to areas hit by the virus. “We are on the eve of a pandemic,” he warned.
He warned that, although it may be true that more die of the flu than of a COVID-19 infection, “we know influenza … and can protect ourselves”.
People’s “panic reactions” are therefore “not entirely groundless, we are facing an unknown calamity,” he said. All important information is going to be made public immediately, he added.
On the “national consultation” set to launch in mid-March, Orbán said the survey will ask for people’s opinions on compensation lawsuits over bad prison conditions, discrimination issues at a school in the northern Hungarian village of Gyöngyöspata, and early prison releases.
An international debate is to be expected on the topic, Orbán said. Hungary is part of an international system of the judiciary, and such issues “do not stop at the country’s borders”. “Let us not go into the question of whether that is good or bad,” he said.
On compensation lawsuits over bad prison conditions, which he called “prison business”, Orbán said international treaties rightly prohibited the torture of inmates. However, international courts had defined torture in a way that clashes with the people’s sense of justice, he said, pointing to “violent criminals being paid millions of forints because they complain over cell sizes or a lack of ventilation”.
The “prison business” has amounted to some 12,000 cases, he said. It is clearly a “business” which has to be stopped, he added. He called on people to complete and send back the surveys so that “Hungary can take a stand based on wide popular agreement” in a possible international controversy.
On another subject, Orbán said that the government’s main political rival was “George Soros and his associates” rather than the opposition. The former circle “poses a greater threat for the country and the government” than the opposition, he said, insisting that Soros had earlier taken “three major manoeuvres aimed at looting the country”.
“Soros’ financial empire aims to gain influence over government decisions so as to reap financial benefits,” he said, adding that “regrettably the Hungarian opposition has merged with Soros’ network”.
Soros and the “media, journalists, activists, and NGOs he finances” are a “well-organised plain-clothes network commanded in a military manner” that will “attack governments on obvious instruction from its centre”, Orbán said.
Commenting on the European Union’s next budget, Orbán urged a fair distribution of the burdens, rich countries paying more “or at least not less” than poorer EU members. Hungary currently contributes more, relative to its per capita GDP, than the Netherlands or Germany, he added.
Featured photo illustration by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI