Budapest, December 5 (MTI) – Hungary’s national independence is under attack, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday in connection with critical remarks recently made by US Senator John McCain.
Speaking on public Kossuth Radio, Orban called McCain’s claims “extremist” and added that the senator’s remarks “reflect on the person who said them”.
On Tuesday, the Republican senator said that Hungary was “a very important country where bad things are going on”. He also insisted that Hungary is “a nation that is on the verge of ceding its sovereignty to a neo-fascist dictator getting in bed with Vladimir Putin.”
In his interview, Orban said that his top priority was to preserve the country’s independence and added that he “would not be a viceroy in Hungary commissioned by some foreign state”. He argued that independence in terms of energy, finance, and trade was “not attractive for the beneficiaries of pre-2010 times when Hungary was not independent and when they could profiteer on Hungarians”.
On the subject of the US entry ban imposed on six Hungarian nationals, Orban said that “the situation is getting simpler” as “the Americans the other day made a clear statement and said that the head of the tax authority had committed a crime of corruption”.
Tax chief Ildiko Vida can only do one thing, to file a lawsuit for slander with no delay, Orban said. “Hungarian law offers an opportunity for each citizen to defend themselves, and I expect each senior state official to do so in a situation like this,” the prime minister said.
Answering a question, Orban said that if corruption charges are proven, the official “will go behind bars”.
To another question concerning allegations that Hungary could also restrict entry in reaction to the US ban, Orban said that “we will act as a country proud of its national independence should act”.
On another subject, Orban said that his Fidesz party had selected a nominee to run in a crucial by-election set for February, deciding over the party alliance’s two-thirds power in parliament, in western Hungary’s Veszprem. The candidate had been proposed by Tibor Navracsics, Veszprem’s former deputy, Orban said. The premier declined to name the person selected.
Answering another question Orban said that it was not crucial for Fidesz to have a two thirds majority, which the party could lose at the by-election. He argued that all necessary laws that required a supermajority had been passed in the 2010-2014 period. It is important, however, that Veszprem and its surroundings should have a representative in parliament who is “able to assist them on important matters”, he added.
Concerning the government’s recent decision to purchase Budapest Bank, Orban said the aim was not to establish a big state-owned lender but to see that enough of the banking sector is in Hungarian hands to ensure financing does not cease in a time of crisis. He said the acquisition of Budapest Bank would raise the percentage of the banking sector in Hungarian hands “well over 50 percent”, a threshold earlier set as a goal by the government.
On the subject of energy, Orban said that “the file on the South Stream gas pipeline is now closed” but Hungary’s interest has remained “to have a gas pipeline that arrives in Hungary avoiding Ukraine”.
The prime minister insisted that after the failure of the Nabucco project and then the ditching of the South Stream project, a third option now needs to be prepared. He said that those preparations were under way already, and added that Hungary needs to utilise opportunities offered by a recent strategic agreement between Hungary and Azerbaijan.
Speaking about a proposal to restrict shop openings on Sundays, Orban said the proposal was not about closing stores, but about preventing employers from making people work on Sundays.
Commenting on the 2015 budget bill before Parliament, Orban said the bill shows that national independence is “not just good… but useful in an economic sense”. He added that the government’s policies had directly served the day-to-day economic interests of Hungarian households, citing reduced energy prices, low inflation, the start of economic growth and more jobs.
Photo: MTI – Szilard Koszticsak