All refugees from Ukraine are being taken care of in Hungary, the prime minister said in Beregsurány, at the Hungary-Ukraine border, on Thursday. Orbán told the press that “in times of trouble, calmness, levelheadedness, experience and routine are of paramount importance”.
“[W]e have crisis-tolerant ministers,” Orbán said, adding that most had already handled some kind of crisis, so coordination was working well. He said the work of volunteers was well-coordinated and no donation would go to waste, with handouts distributed and forwarded to the intended recipients. Refugees without acquaintances in Hungary to accommodate them are being placed in temporary shelters, he said.
Centres have been set up around Hungary where they will receive food and shelter, even if they must stay for a lengthy period,
Orbán said preparations have started to organise work for refugees. “We will try to offer an opportunity for everyone to create their own livelihood,” he said, adding that “this is a work-based country, and here we help everyone get work.” Hungarian refugees who speak Hungarian and have ties to Hungary are in a less difficult situation and
may soon find accommodation and work,
Orbán said. He mentioned a family with five children he had talked to who already have a rented flat in Nyíregyháza and jobs “starting tomorrow”.
Refugees who don’t speak Hungarian and who may not have yet decided if they wanted to stay in Hungary are in a more vulnerable situation, the prime minister said. Concerning people from third countries, mostly students from India, Nigeria, and China, Orbán said that they could enter Hungary and leave for home under agreements with their embassies.
He also offered them the opportunity to continue their studies in Hungary.
“There is accommodation, and for the time being there are supplies;
there will be jobs, schools for students, we have translators, and … things are going smoothly,”
Orbán said. He added, however, that apart from providing aid to refugees, “the key to resolving the situation is not in Hungary but out there.”
Answering a question, Orbán said
Hungary’s foreign minister was in contact with both Russia and Ukraine.
He said that personally he had not had talks with those countries’ officials since the outbreak of the war. “I will have talks when needed,” he said.
In his response to a question about the upgrade of the Paks nuclear plant, Orbán said the two new reactors “will be completed on schedule”. The enlarged plant is necessary for the country; without that facility “Hungarian industry would be less competitive and families would pay more for utilities … the government has no reason to change its earlier plans and is not mulling doing so”, he said.
On another subject, Orbán said that, similarly to the chancellor of Germany and the president of France, he had fulfilled a “peace mission” when he met Russian President Vladimir Putin in early February, trying to facilitate the avoidance of war through talks. “I think we had created that possibility and regret that the opportunity could not become reality,” he said.
Asked what message he would have for Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, Orbán said he did not have messages for them, only to the refugees present at the press conference. “Hungary is a good friend of Ukraine, and Ukrainians can rely on us,” he said, adding that he did not think the leaders of the two countries would be “in need of a message or advice” from him.
“They are big boys; they know better than me what to do.”
“The thing Hungarians wish for is peace,” the prime minister said, adding that he was hoping for the same “from the bottom of his heart”.
Orbán said his government had tried everything in the pursuit of successful talks. “What we have now is war, and war can only be stopped by way of talks and a ceasefire. That, however, is not up to the leaders of Europe or the Hungarian prime minister, but Russians and Ukrainians — primarily up to the Russians,” Orbán said.
“Hungary will always be available should the Russians and Ukrainians need it for peace talks,”
Answering a question from a foreign journalist who put it to him that the Hungarian government’s attitude towards foreign arrivals was “very different to what it was in 2015”, the prime minister said: “We are able to draw a distinction between migrants and refugees”. “Hungarians do not live in the comfortable and secure West, but amid hardship, and it has been like that for centuries,” he said, adding that “migrants should stop, but refugees should be given all the help they can get.”