Budapest (MTI) – The United States seeks influence in Central Europe and uses corruption as a “cover story”, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in an interview to public television M1 late on Tuesday.
Orban told M1’s “Az Este” programme that 2014 had become a busy year because of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, and the issue of “national independence” also had to be addressed.
“One would have thought things would calm down after three elections (…) but we are not responsible for living the times that we do,” he said. Orban said “the cards were being redealt worldwide”, and Hungary also felt the general tension prevalent in Europe.
The corruption charges formulated by the United States are but a “cover story” and in fact the US has newfound interests in this region, it wants to gain influence and this is why it needs corruption as a cover, he said. When the Hungarian government demands evidence from the United States it is “somehow never provided”. This is a typical side effect of a secret service manouvre for influence, he said.
This is a new era, the US is not only exerting influence, it has taken an active part in the domestic political affairs of Central European countries, Orban insisted. The main reason for this is the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the talks about the free trade agreement between the EU and the US, he said. There are two areas where US interests are especially overt: energy and trade policy, he added.
“They want to draw us into a conflict which can only have a bad outcome for us,” he said. Hungary does not wish to take part in the cold war atmosphere present in US-Russia relations, he added.
Hungary’s foreign policy is more like the German one; it stipulates that the Russia-Ukraine conflict cannot be resolved against the Russians, only with them, Orban said. This is different from the US position, he added.
“The Americans wanted to build a nuclear plant in Hungary, now they are not the ones building it and this hurts,” he said.
Asked if there were any plans to declare US charge d’affaires Andre Goodfriend a persona-non-grata in Hungary, Orban said there were no such plans per se, but Hungary must respond to any moves in a way that acknowledges respect for Hungary.
On the subject of Fidesz’s popularity loss in recent polls, Orban said he only saw “verbal abuse” which was not as harsh as anti-government demonstrations earlier. He added that people had the right to express their opinions in a democracy.
As regards disagreements within his party, Orban said he did not think these were serious and that politics were not about personal differences but about the country and its people. “The most exciting part of politics is the peep show,” he said, but it is actually not important. He conceded there were generational differences within the party but likened the conflict to the one between various types of repairmen in a house. “It doesn’t matter whether the builder, the tiler, and the electrician like each other, we just want the house to have electricity, heating and water,” he said.
He ruled out a government reshuffle and said officials in government were “brave boys” and patriots who, for the time being, needed encouragement rather than being replaced.
Orban said the upcoming years until 2018 will be about strengthening the financial positions of families and wage earners, which includes protecting the utility bill cut scheme, the bailout scheme for forex borrowers, wage hikes, career models.
The best policy against poverty is job creation and the state has a role to play in this. In response to a question, he insisted that new legislation, including the law on restricting shop openings on Sundays, would help job creation.
Orban said economic growth in Hungary would be above the European average in 2015, too. If the economy fares well, some tax cuts could be justified, he added.