Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that “Whatever sanctions EU member states agree on, we’ll back them.”
In an interview with public news channel M1 on Sunday, he stressed that “strategic composure is necessary in time of war.”
Orbán reiterated his position that Hungary must “concentrate efforts on staying out of this armed conflict”, noting that the country took the same stand during the Kosovo War in 1999 and the Crimean conflict in 2015.
He said Hungary, as a neighbour of Ukraine, must avoid the situation of “confusion, anxiousness and hasty and rash decisions” common in time of war. “Strategic composure. That’s what’s necessary now,” he added.
He urged caution against all “rushed, off-the-cuff” decisions, that “may sound popular, but have unanticipated consequences” and pointed to the Hungarian left wing’s alleged proposal to send troops to the war zone as an example of a “lack of strategic patience”. “There is no need for that, just as there is no need to urge Hungary to send weapons to the region,” he said. “We’re a neighbouring country, and those weapons might be used to shoot at Hungarians, as Hungarians live in Transcarpathia, too,” Orbán added.
Orbán said the Hungarian Army has all of the weapons it needs to defend the country’s eastern border, if necessary. He noted that Hungary started to develop its defence industry several years earlier, but “the factories are only now being built”.
“Even if it wanted to, Hungary couldn’t put military equipment at the disposal of others, but it doesn’t want to,” he added.
He said Hungary’s defence industry developments were launched “in preparation for peace”, adding that the coming decade would be about “who can ensure security for their own country and the everyday lives of their own people”.
Orbán said very refugee arriving from Ukraine must be assisted and “can be assured they will be welcomed by friends in Hungary”. Assisting refugees from Ukraine is an “elementary human, Christian instinct”, he added.
Commenting on the show of support for the refugees by Hungarians, Orbán said Hungary “is a good country, with good people”.
He said one doesn’t have to be a “rocket scientist” to see the difference between “masses arriving from Muslim regions in hope of a better life in Europe” and helping Ukrainian refugees who have come to Hungary because of the war.
Orbán said the interests of Hungary and Hungarians are the priority, even in time of war, adding that decisions are being weighed “every hour” that will serve the interests of Hungary and of Hungarians. He said these include ones that involve energy policy sanctions that could negatively impact Hungarians.
He said a “war of information” is underway and cautioned against disinformation.
Orbán said the upgrade of Hungary’s sole nuclear power plant at Paks and the matter of energy must be excluded from the issue of sanctions, “otherwise we’ll pay the price of the war, which nobody wants”.
Orbán conceded that he is “no believer in the benefit of sanctions”, but said “there’s a war going on, and it’s not the time to be clever, but to be united”.
“Whatever sanctions EU member states agree on, we’ll back them,” he said. Reports to the contrary “are lies”, he added.
Orbán warned that the longer the war drags on, the greater the risk that there will be targets in Transcarpathia, bringing the war “closer to us”. He said “those people in Brussels” can’t be counted on to defend the EU’s external borders, noting the lack of EU financial assistance for Hungary’s defence of its southern border during migrant crisis.
“That’s why we need NATO, because if danger approaches Hungary’s border…only within the bonds of NATO can we ensure the full defence of Hungary,” he said.
Featured photo by Vivien Cher Benko/PM’s Press Office