(MTI) – Prime Minister Viktor Orban defended the right of Hungarians in Transcarpathia to autonomy in an interview to public television M1 late on Friday.
Orban said in connection with the crisis in Ukraine that energy supplies were stable in Hungary.
Reasserting his recently criticised remarks about autonomy for Transcarpathian Hungarians, Orban told M1’s “Este” programme that Hungary was interested in a stable and democratic Ukraine, but it cannot be either, if it fails to grant the local minorities, ethnic communities, among them Hungarians, what they are entitled to. That is “dual citizenship, collective or community rights and autonomy”, he said.
After his re-election last Saturday, Orban told lawmakers in Hungarian parliament that ethnic Hungarians were entitled to dual citizenship, community rights and autonomy. “These are topical issues in light of the situation in neighbouring Ukraine where 200,000 ethnic Hungarians live,” he told lawmakers.
Orban said there were several legal solutions to granting autonomy in Europe, and “Hungarians in Transcarpathia can choose that in the wide and colourful world of autonomy which concrete legal institution they prefer,” he said.
Whatever they choose, they and Ukrainian authorities must know that the Hungarian state is behind their autonomy demands with its full weight, Orban insisted. He added that this was a good time to specify needs as the new Ukraine is just setting up.
However, Orban said that in the matter of Russia’s actions “violating Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty” Hungary must support Ukraine.
As regards energy issues, Orban said he hoped the impact of the Ukrainian crisis on gas supplies would be scarce, but “there are preparations also for bad scenarios”. Hungary is able to supply energy for its residents and businesses in the “long term” and the government has taken the necessary steps to ensure this, Orban said. He added that he had recently signed agreements with Alexei Miller, the chairman of Gazprom, to secure safe energy supplies for Hungarians.
On a different subject, Orban said the Hungarian government was expected to make a decision in connection with solutions for troubled forex borrowers in the autumn. He added that a final solution would be sought but first Kuria, Hungary’s supreme court, must make its relevant decisions, after which the government would act at great speed to ensure that all borrowers are protected.
He said that consultations have been held on the formation of his new government, but the new cabinet would only set up in June, because people voted for the government to continue its work, so “the same programme will be implemented with roughly the same people”.
Orban said a list of ministers would be ready on June 6 and that of state secretaries a few days later. He said there are decisions which he had already made regarding his staff.
The prime minister said he had held talks with central bank president Gyorgy Matolcsy and they were in agreement that public debt had declined and the state had bought significant assets, so the debt to assets ratio has “markedly changed”.
He added that there was “money in store” to finance expiring debt, which would “in a moment improve the situation of state debt”.
Orban said it was a good situation if the state is indebted to its own citizens and not to foreigners.
On the subjects of approaching EP elections, Orban said despite its achievements Hungary has still not received the respect it deserved. He said EP representatives were needed who would stand up for Hungary.
He dismissed a question regarding growing popularity for the radical nationalist Jobbik party, as “uninteresting”. He said the only question was “the quality of people Hungary was sending to Brussels”.
He said as two-thirds of Hungarian representatives belonged to a “European centre”, no extremism, either from the right or left, could gain ground.
Asked to comment on Jobbik MEP Bela Kovacs, who has been accused of espionage, Orban said espionage was tantamount to treason and he thought that it was shocking a party calling itself national was trying to send someone suspected of treason to Brussels. He said Hungarian laws must strike down at full force in this case.
Photo: MTI – Szilard Koszticsak