Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told an international press conference on Thursday he was ready to run for another term in his post.
Orbán ready to continue as PM
Ruling Fidesz has yet to make a decision concerning its prime minister candidate for the next election, Orbán said, but added that “I stand prepared”.
Last year saw European Parliament and municipal elections in Hungary, but the campaign is now over, Orbán said,
adding that the next two years “must be about governing”. The government will not participate in political campaigns before January 2022, and will “spend all its time focusing on the minutiae [of governing] till then”, he said.
In the next two “busy and hard-working” years the government will “accelerate and strengthen efforts to develop the country”, he added.
Concerning his party, Orban expressed agreement with “those that say that Fidesz has been more combative in the past two years than before” adding, however that “the campaign is over and we must return to the earlier way of policy making”. He argued that the campaign had been “too long, combative and confrontative”, saying that “people don’t like that”. He said the government should resume its earlier “national consultation” surveys, adding that he was planning at least two such surveys for this year.
Answering a question about a possible government reshuffle, Orbán said that “governing is a risky and responsible job” and insisted that “no changes must be made without a compelling reason”.
“Stability is an important value but if something needs to be fixed it should be fixed,” he added.
New European ChristDem initiative ‘may be necessary’
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Thursday said a new Christian Democrat initiative in the European Union “may be warranted”.
Speaking at an international press conference, Orbán said the European People’s Party (EPP), where Hungary’s ruling Fidesz suspended its membership last March, is “not interesting for Fidesz in its current form”. Therefore, changes are needed within the party group, he said.
Orbán said the EPP is “shrinking, it is losing its influence, positions, and seats in the European Parliament” because it has taken a “mistaken, liberal, centrist, and Socialist” direction.
The question is whether Fidesz has enough weight to “force or initiate” changes, Orbán said.
Should the EPP prove incapable of change, European politics will need a new Christian Democratic initiative to offset the rise of French President Emmanuel Macron’s leftist movement, Orbán said.
Hungary to separate energy policy, political alliances
PM Orbán said that
Hungarian energy policy has been so far been kept separate from its policy of making alliances, and the government intends to keep it that way.
He said Hungary was going to apply the same approach to the conflict between Iran and the United States.
Orbán said he hoped to bring the European Union’s stance on Iran closer to that of the US and Israel.
Hungary’s view is that the number of countries with nuclear weapons should not grow, he said.
On another topic, Orbán said
Hungarian energy independence was “in much better shape” after his Fidesz party’s ten-year rule “than ever before”.
The swift start of gas production in Romania, and Hungary acquiring partial ownership in a Croatian liquefied gas terminal would guarantee Hungarian energy independence, he added.
Orbán urges ‘calm, methodical’ approach to fighting climate change
Hungarians can preserve their way of life in the Carpathian Basin “but to do so we must adopt a calm and methodical approach to climate change,” Orbán said on Thursday.
Tthe prime minister noted that the government has approved a national energy and climate protection strategy.
The government has a multi-phase plan in place under which 90 percent of the electricity generated in Hungary will be carbon-free by 2030, Orbán said.
Under this plan, he said, most of Hungary’s electricity supply would be generated by the Paks nuclear power plant, with solar energy becoming the second-biggest source.
Hungary has what it takes to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, he said, adding, at the same time, that this would require funding of 50,000 billion forints (EUR 150.8bn).
“Climate change is important but expensive,” Orbán added.
He also said the government would draw up a climate and environmental protection action plan with specific measures. These would involve regulations mandating that new buses in public transport should all be electric, the elimination of illegal waste sites and the cleansing of rivers of plastic bottles, Orbán said.
Government to raise wages, reduce unemployment
The Hungarian government will continue to reduce unemployment and increase wages because “there is no other way to eliminating poverty”, Orbán said.
Orbán called it a “fantastic achievement” that the number of jobholders exceeded 4.5 million “for the first time in thirty years”. Wages have been growing for 82 consecutive months, with the growth rate the largest for low earners, he added.
On another subject, Orbán said
the government would “put an end to hospitals amassing debt”.
He noted that the State Audit Office had found serious problems and said that amassing huge debts was “not remissible sin but a serious issue”. “This practice needs to be eliminated; no hospital must amass debts,” the prime minister said, and added that the minister in charge had been requested to come up with a proposal aimed at controlling the finances of hospitals. He also added that the government would provide all means to settle hospitals’ current payables.
Orbán said that the health government would reallocate resources and make renovation of hospital wards, waiting rooms and related communal spaces a top priority.
Meanwhile, he said infertility drugs will be free of charge starting from Feb. 1. Government subsidies currently cover 90 percent of the price of these drugs, he noted.
As regards the government takeover of infertility centres, Orbán said the facilities had been purchased by the state for the sake of transparency. He said the human resources minister has devised a scheme that will base the treatment of infertility on the capacities of the various infertility centres.
Migration pressure has increased considerably at Hungary-Serbia border
The Hungarian government has decided to increase the number of police officers and soldiers serving at the Hungarian-Serbian border due to a growing migration pressure, he told.
The number of attempts at illegal crossings has exceeded 100 daily, Orbán said.
The other three Visegrad countries, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia are ready to contribute to Hungarian border protection efforts at a moment’s notice, Orbán said, and added that Hungary would send a police unit to Macedonia to the same end.
In response to a question on migration, Orbán said there was no need for an overhaul of Hungary’s border protection measures. Asked about migrant settlement quotas, he said tensions between European countries that oppose immigration and those that support it were unlikely to ease. Hungary continues to oppose immigration and is ready to defend its position on the issue, he added.