'No Winner Possible' in Ukraine, Says Orbán

  • 24 Feb 2023 8:07 AM
'No Winner Possible' in Ukraine, Says Orbán
"There can be no winner in this war," Viktor Orbán told MPs of the ruling Fidesz-Christian Democrat parties ahead of parliament's spring session.

“It is in Hungary’s national interest to stay out of the war,” the prime minister said at the meeting of the parties’ parliamentary group, insisting the government would not change its position on the war in Ukraine, according to the daily Magyar Nemzet.

“Hungarians so decided in April and we will not send weapons or join any war coalitions,” Orbán told the paper. “We are not supporting anybody, because there can be no winner in this war.”

Russia cannot win, because “the whole Western world is behind Ukraine,” he said, adding that “Russia is a nuclear power and cannot be cornered because that could trigger a nuclear war.”

The “sole morally right” position is that of the ruling parties, Orbán said. Europe has weakened during the past year because “the Biden administration promotes its interests in Brussels with no constraint, to the detriment of European interests,” Orbán said.

“The responses to the war … a tsunami of sanctions have started weakening the European economy, while it does not affect America, which is rich in energy,” he said.

Orbán: Europe’s Militaries Weakened

Europe’s military capabilities have weakened as the war had depleted the reserves of Europe’s armies, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told lawmakers of the ruling parties. In the span of less than a year, Europe had “lost its independence, its economic and military strength”, Orbán said.

In this situation Hungary must promote its own interests to survive the war “unharmed and stronger”, he said. To that end, the country needs to protect its independence and the “pro-peace position against the Biden administration and Brussels”, he added.

The country must also retain its economic strength; it should “declare war on inflation”, protect jobs, families, as well as seniors and wage earners, the prime minister said, adding that Hungary’s military should also be reinforced since “peace requires strength”.

Meanwhile, Orbán accused Brussels of saddling Hungary with the “disease” of inflation on the back of higher energy prices owing to its sanctions against Russia. He insisted that it was Russia and multinational companies that had profited heavily from the sanctions.

Citing forecasts, he said that the profits of the global oil and gas industries had increased from 500 billion US dollars to 834 billion in 2022. Concerning the domestic economy, Orbán said Hungary’s energy companies, banks, large trading companies and pharmaceuticals were making “excessive profits”.

Those monies are used to finance the government’s utility and food price cap programme, he said. “We are not watching passively … we will take extra profits away and give the money back to the people,” he said.

Referring to “adversaries” of the ruling parties, Orbán mentioned “international pro-war groups consisting of the Biden administration, pro-war Brussels bureaucrats and politicians”.

He also included in that group Hungary’s leftist parties “bought by the kilo”, who he said were “only doing what their clients order them to do”. As a further group, he mentioned international speculators who “seek to make profits in war times”.

Orbán concluded his speech by asking the deputies to “continue to be hard-working, represent a team spirit and have courage”, Magyar Nemzet reported.

Szijjártó Addresses UNGA Emergency Session on Ukraine War

Hungary calls on the international community to finally focus on saving human lives by achieving a ceasefire in Ukraine and creating peace as soon as possible, Péter Szijjártó, the foreign minister, said in New York in his address to the UN General Assembly’s emergency session on the conflict.

Szijjártó told delegates that Hungary, as a neighbouring country of Ukraine, experienced the tragic consequences of the war firsthand, a Foreign Ministry statement said.

Hungary, he noted, is engaged in its biggest ever humanitarian mission, adding that more than one million refugees have crossed Hungary, and the authorities are providing health care and schooling to those who want to stay in the country. The war, he said, had only brought about suffering and had “no winners, only losers”.

“Hundreds or thousands of people are losing their lives every day.”

Szijjártó said the greatest duty of the international community was to save lives, and this required peace, as “neither arms deliveries nor sanctions save lives” but instead helped to prolong the war and threatened its escalation.

The Hungarian foreign minister called on the global community to focus on securing an immediate ceasefire and starting peace talks as soon as possible. Szijjártó underlined the importance of dialogue and “keeping channels of communication open”.

The United Nations, he added, played an important role in this, having been established with the aim of serving as a platform for dialogue between opponent states. “We urge the United States and Russia to start talks within the framework of the UN as soon as possible,” he said.

“The situation in Ukraine may appear less tragic if viewed from a distance of several hundred or thousand kilometres on the other side of the ocean, but for us, here, in [Ukraine’s] immediate neighbourhood, it is clear that we are in the 12th hour,” Szijjártó said.

He said Hungary had already “paid a high price” for the war, noting skyrocketing inflation and the many Hungarians who had been drafted in Transcarpathia and died in the war.

Szijjártó also called on politicians around the world to refrain from taking any measure or making any statement that could lead to the conflict’s escalation and prolongation.

“Central Europe has always emerged at the losing end when there was a conflict between East and West. This is why Hungary does not want another Cold War, another division of blocs.”

“A war always signals the failure of diplomacy and peace always means the success of diplomacy. 2023 will hopefully be a year of peace and reconstruction.”

Kocsis: Fidesz to Submit Declaration ‘Hungary Committed to Peace'

The parliamentary group of Fidesz and its Christian Democrat ally plan to submit a political declaration to parliament stating Hungary’s commitment to the pursuit of peace in Ukraine, Máté Kocsis, the ruling party’s group leader said on Thursday.

Also, the group has asked the speaker to send a delegation to Sweden and Finland for coordination talks regarding the NATO membership of the two countries, he said. Hungary’s position is plain: the country does not want to drift into war, Kocsis told a press conference after a meeting of the ruling parties at the Lake Balaton resort.

“This is not Hungary’s conflict,” he said. The decision to submit a political declaration to parliament was motivated by the “pressure” the government and country were under, he said, adding that parliament must “adopt a firm and clear position” on the issue.

Noting that the war has lasted for a year, and no signs were apparent that it would end anytime soon, he added the conflict had claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and resulted in Europe’s biggest humanitarian crisis of recent times.

Europe, he said, was gradually drifting into the war as the European Parliament demanded additional arms deliveries, fighter jets, helicopters, missile systems, tanks and additional ammunition to be sent to the battlefield. Many EU member states have already committed themselves to additional arms shipments, he added.

The ruling parties’ seven-point document states Hungary’s commitment to peace, its condemnation of Russia’s military aggression, its recognition of Ukraine’s right to self-defence, its rejection of EU sanctions, and the importance of helping refugees. Further, it noted how the war gravely affects the Transcarpathian Hungarian community, Kocsis added.

At the same time, it states that no one can force Hungary to put the interests of any other country before its own, he said. “We are committed members of NATO and the European Union,” he said, adding that as a full member of both organisations and as sovereign state, Hungary would do everything possible to promote peace.

Kocsis said the parties reject EU plants to broaden the range of energy sanctions, adding that it was unacceptable that Europe and Hungary should bear the economic burden of the war. Freezing gas and oil imports and banning nuclear fuel imports would disrupt energy supplies and provoke even higher inflation, he said.

The outcomes of the April 2022 general election and the public survey on sanctions were clear, he said. Hungarians want peace talks as soon as possible instead of arms deliveries and they reject additional sanctions, he added.

Meanwhile, Kocsis noted that Fidesz and its Christian Democrat ally have asked the speaker of Hungarian parliament to send a delegation to Sweden and Finland for coordination talks regarding the NATO membership of the two countries.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán asked the ruling lawmakers to back Sweden and Finland’s membership of the alliance, though opinions on the matter were divided at their meeting Balatonfüred, in western Hungary, Kocsis noted.

“A serious debate developed, with several lawmakers making a point that politicians of Sweden and Finland had crudely and baselessly offended Hungary … over the past few years, and they are now asking a favour,” he said.

Kocsis said the move would fall into the course of normal parliamentary proceedings and it would not entail an extension of these. No postponement of the decision by parliament is expected, he added.

He said that when the US ambassador to the United Nations informed the UN General Assembly about anti-Semitic crimes, he cited the vandalism of the Wallenberg monument in connection with Hungary when in fact the desecration took place in Sweden. An investigation is needed to establish the facts and whether the accusations are true, he added.

Commenting on Sweden and Finland, he said opinions were expressed that by joining the alliance the NATO aspirants may threaten the war’s escalation.

“The Prime Minister’s position is clear, but that of the parliamentary group less so,” he said, adding that this fact, however, would not have a bearing on the accession procedure. In response to a question, he said existing political disputes must be resolved, though “we are essentially committed to maintaining, expanding and strengthening both NATO and the European community.”

He said politicians of Sweden and Finland must acknowledge that it was unacceptable to make “insulting statements about a partner country and then ask it for a favour”.

Kocsis said the chance of an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine was “slim”, adding that countries to the west of Hungary were “not working towards” bringing about peace.

Regarding statements by the US ambassador to Hungary, Kocsis said: “We will put forward our argument against anyone who wants to drag Hungary into the war. We consider anyone who wants to drag Hungary into the war an opponent.”

Meanwhile, Kocsis said Hungary’s child protection system and rules must be tightened and “gender propaganda” in the country must be curbed. Fidesz and its Christian Democrat ally are in the process of drafting a proposal to be submitted to parliament in the autumn.

“It’s rather complex codification work covering several areas,” Kocsis said, adding that “every area that supports aggressive gender propaganda and poses a threat to our children must be considered.”

He said tough disputes were to be expected on the matter both in Europe and Hungary, adding that it was a topic kept on the agenda by the Hungarian left wing, as well as being “a priority issue for the Brussels elite”.

Referring to a recent case of a teacher revealing in a video message his “sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy”, Kocsis called it “outrageous” that the teacher “publicised the affair and was even proud of it”.

“This is what we have been talking about for years: aggressive gender propaganda,” he said, adding that Hungarian law did not have an appropriate provision for a relationship between an adult and a minor. He said it was not by accident that the teacher, who has since been sacked, had made reference to international rights organisations he had appealed to.

“Those organisations are among the most vocal critics of issues that the majority of Hungarians support. Those are organisations financed from abroad … often exert political pressure,” he said. “Paedophiles are making reference to them because they have obviously pledged to protect them,” Kocsis said, adding there could be “no forgiveness” for paedophilia.

Kocsis said it was easy to anticipate the “public outrage over the disgusting and unacceptable case” when politicians were coming up with proposals for a solution. Meanwhile, there would be expressions of outrage in Brussels, followed by a delegation visiting Hungary, investigating something and concluding violations of law. They will then try to pressure the Hungarian government and parliament,” he said, adding that left-wing politicians always came “to the enthusiastic defence of gender propaganda”.

Kocsis said price caps must be maintained until inflation is on a downward path, and the aim is for inflation to be in the single digits by year’s end. Hungarian inflation is now peaking, he added.

Commenting on the planned battery plant in Debrecen, the Fidesz group leader said the plant would have to operate under the same strict environmental protection rules that apply in the European Union.

Regarding demands for a referendum on any further construction of battery plants, he said a plebiscite was a matter for the Election Committee not Fidesz, but generally the party supported consultative exercises.

On the topic of the 2024 European Women’s Handball Championship, citing high energy and other costs, he said the government had accepted the party’s recommendation to withdraw from organising the event. Given the penalties and compensation involved, they also discussed the possibility of taking on a smaller role in hosting the event, he said.

Kocsis denied a press report that plans were afoot to nationalise public lighting, saying this was not discussed at the group meeting, and no such proposal was on the agenda. Local councils will continue to be responsible for public lighting, he added.

Asked about the European Parliament committee investigating Pegasus spyware, Kocsis said the government had not engaged with the committee, since it was with parliament that the EP should engage. He insisted that the EP committee had come to Hungary “with preconceptions”, and since 2010, no illegal wiretapping had taken place in Hungary.

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