Hungary is a “friendly place” for people arriving from Ukraine, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told journalists during an inspection of the border with Ukraine in Beregsurány on Saturday.
Orbán said the front line is far from Hungary for the time being, but stressed that military action in Transcarpathia, the westernmost region of Ukraine, bordering on Hungary, must also be anticipated.
He said “soldiers and mayors must step up their discipline” as the front line moves closer to Hungary.
He added that the coming weeks “will require stronger composure, because we don’t want to become involved in this armed conflict”.
Answering a question, Orbán said speculation that Hungary was the only European Union member state to oppose Russia’s exclusion from the SWIFT global interbank payments system was “fake news” and warned that “disinformation is commonplace in war”.
“Hungary made it clear at the EU summit on Thursday that it supports all sanctions on which there is consensus in the EU. We’re not blocking anything,” he said.
Assessing the situation at the border, Orbán said the willingness of local councils and authorities to help would see them through these difficult times. In spite of the severity of the situation, work is proceeding in a calm and organised manner, he added.
Orbán said Hungary is letting in everyone crossing the border from Ukraine, even those without travel documents and people from third countries, after the appropriate screening.
Even though work is “going smoothly”, he warned that “the hard part is yet to come”.
Orbán acknowledged the hospitality and willingness to help of local residents.
“I see there is a Hungarian-Ukrainian friendship among those who live here that is now a tangible advantage to Ukrainians,” he said.
Answering questions, Orbán said he and a number of other European leaders, including the German chancellor and the French president, had put peace initiatives to Russian President Vladimir Putin during the past ten days.
“We did everything that was humanly possible to avoid war, but all efforts by the EU proved to be without success,” he added.
Now, he said, efforts should be focused on turning from war to peace. He added that Hungary has implemented EU sanctions.
Asked whether Hungary would accept Ukrainian men escaping conscription, Orbán said anybody who enters the territory of Hungary is under Hungarian authority, “so we’ll help everybody”. “The rule is that all refugees must be assisted,” he added.