Hungary’s top priority is to stay out of the war between Russia and Ukraine, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told a congress of farmers’ association Magosz and the National Agricultural Chamber (NAK) on Saturday.
“We condemn war, especially now that it’s taking place in our neighbouring country; we say no to violence, and all of this is important, but the most important thing is for Hungary to stay out of this armed conflict,” the prime minister said.
Orbán said all wars could be examined from several different perspectives, and should be, but only one perspective mattered when it came to making decisions. “We can only look at it through one kind of glasses: the Hungarian kind,” he said.
He said the government had “taken no wrong steps” over the past several days and would not do so in the coming weeks either, because “we’ll be able to remain calm even in the most difficult moments”. “We won’t change our perspective . on war for any other kind of foreign perspective recommended from abroad.”
The prime minister said it was important for the government to continue making decisions in the months ahead that would prevent “Hungarians paying the price of war”.
Hungary’s open trade and investment regime means that its interests lie in a free and open world which has now been made more difficult because of war, Orban said. This means that Hungary’s entire foreign trade strategy needs to be adjusted to the current situation, which the government will do in the coming days, he added.
“It’s not just our hearts but also our pockets that determine our interest in having peace as quickly as possible and regaining a part of our markets that have shrunk due to the war,” Orbán said.
Orbán said the sanctions imposed on Russia were different than the ones imposed in the past because “these will also hurt us.” He said the most important task now was to ensure that the sanctions would not affect the area of energy. “Expensive energy is already a problem, but having no energy is even worse because it brings the economy or at least a certain segment of it to a halt,” he said.
Orbán said that while less than 5 percent of Hungary’s agricultural exports go to Russia and Ukraine, the country’s share of imports made things more difficult, with 7 percent of the country’s raw materials coming from Russia and 8.4 percent from Ukraine.
He said he was discussing the management of this issue with the minister of agriculture, adding that the government would issue a decree in the matter on Saturday.
He noted that rising energy prices also affected goods and raw materials imported from abroad, adding that Hungary also needed to keep an eye on exchange rates. “Since the start of the war in Ukraine, central European currencies have been on a seesaw,” the prime minister said, adding that Hungary could only partly escape the effects of this.
Turning to the election, Orbán said next month’s vote would be a unique one because of the war. The government, he said, had to focus most of its efforts on combatting the negative effects of the conflict.
He said Hungary’s banking system was stable and would withstand the pressure.