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Any change would pose risks

“The present state is favourable, the situation is stagnating, and any change we would potentially implement could convey the risk of a deterioration in the situation; we wouldn’t like to run that risk,” the Prime Minister pointed out, stating that the Hungarian method for the containment of the epidemic has worked. He said “if we carry on living the way we have so far, and the way we have lived together with the virus, there will be no problems”.

Mr Orbán also highlighted that today everything is available in Hungary for the fight against the epidemic, and “we ourselves manufacture the necessary equipment”. We now have the capacity to make the necessary quantities of supplies, and therefore the situation is much safer at present.

He observed that during the epidemic the Hungarian health care system had proved to be one of Europe’s best health care systems.

However, equipment and supplies are worth little if rules and regulations are not accurate and clear, and if the people fail to comply with them. Also in this regard, the national consultation is important so that “we can start the containment of the next wave without disputes,” he added.

He stressed that we must not stop our carefully planned, calm and predictable fight against the virus, “we mustn’t get carried away by enthusiasm, our hearts, the summer, Lake Balaton and holidays,” “we should bear in mind that the virus is here with us”. “Behind the calm” there are hundreds of people standing by “in the fashion of well-oiled machinery,” he indicated.

The Prime Minister said the Operational Group is in session, makes recommendations to the government regarding any changes on Tuesdays, the cabinet makes decisions on those recommendations on Wednesdays, and any new measures take effect on Fridays. This is important primarily for those travelling abroad, he continued, because today the threat is the reintroduction of the virus from abroad. Therefore, he asked those travelling abroad to follow the latest country classifications, and to choose countries in the green category instead of those classified as yellow or red because by travelling to the latter countries they can harm not only themselves, but also those remaining in Hungary. The second wave has already started in many places around the world, he pointed out.

Mr Orbán also said due to the epidemic artists in the pop and rock industry must be given help. To this end, the government has allocated more than 5 billion forints for them, and a programme will be launched as part of which ‘garage gigs’ – small-scale live performances – will be recorded and presented by the media. HUF 800 million of this allocation has been set aside specifically to help Roma musicians.

Regarding the employment situation, he pointed out that while on the whole, due to the epidemic, the dynamism of employment had been derailed, we have managed to restore it, and within a few weeks we will be able to say that the government’s pledge to create as many jobs as were destroyed by the virus has been honoured.

The government has developed a special regime for the containment of the economic impacts of the epidemic, the Prime Minister said, adding that central bank governor György Matolcsy – who is “very brave intellectually” – helps him a great deal. According to the central bank governor, “one should overtake on a bend,” meaning that we must devise special Hungarian crisis management measures with which we can achieve a competitive advantage during the crisis.

Compared with other countries’ crisis management, the most important difference is, in the Prime Minister’s opinion, that Hungary has made very significant investments and has changed many of the rules in this regard. This will generate fantastic results next year; in 2021 there will be an “investment boom” in the Hungarian economy which we had not seen for a long time, and “we will come out of the crisis in better shape than when we entered it,” he stated.

At the same time, he observed that this could be jeopardised by one single factor of uncertainty: if there is a second wave and it brings us to our knees.

On the radio programme, the Prime Minister mentioned that in 2023 Veszprém will be the European Capital of Culture, highlighting that this will be an opportunity to showcase a fantastic country to the world, but if we do so, it cannot be dirty and weather-beaten. Veszprém is a jewellery box, with Lake Balaton at its feet, he said.

The capital of culture programme is in good hands, former Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics is coordinating the preparations as government commissioner, and they will spend some HUF 100 billion on the region, he pointed out.

Regarding the latest EU summit, Mr Orbán said Hungarians should not think of funds coming from the European Union as “something that we receive from someone who is richer and stronger than us,” but rather in such a light that in return for the importation of Western goods into the country without protective customs tariffs and investments, Hungary expects to be given a fair share of the profit so generated because “it’s ours, we worked for it”. Competitive opportunities were not equal, and in compensation for that “we are entitled to some kind of financial rebate that creates equal opportunities,” he remarked.

He also stressed that funds from Brussels must be used swiftly, time is of the essence in the economy in particular in the midst of an epidemic, and so the government has already identified the programmes that can be swiftly implemented. He mentioned as examples the improvement of Hungary’s water supply system, environmental protection and the transformation of the energy system; these are items requiring thousands of billions of forints.

“In the latest battle in Brussels, in four days we increased the amount of money that we could raise for the Hungarian economy by 3 billion euros, the equivalent of more than 1,000 billion forints,” Mr Orbán said.