Viktor Orbán highlighted that in times of trouble, calmness, composure, experience and practical knowledge are the most important.
“Luckily or unluckily, we have crisis-weathered ministers,” the majority of ministers in the cabinet have already seen one crisis or another, and therefore, coordination works well, he said.
He added that the work of volunteers has been duly coordinated, and so not a single donation is wasted, all items are arranged into groups, distributed and forwarded to the right places.
The Prime Minister also said refugees who have no acquaintances to stay with and who want to remain in Hungary are put up in temporary accommodation. Appropriate places have already been designated for them in various parts of the country where they are given food and shelter even if they are compelled to stay over an extended period.
Mr Orbán further reported that they had started organising the allocation of jobs for refugees. “We’re trying to create an opportunity for everyone so that they can make an independent living now that life has taken such a turn that they will live here with us and must build a new life here in Hungary,” the Prime Minister said, adding that “this is a workfare country, here we help everyone to work”.
The Prime Minister also highlighted that Hungarian refugees are in a simpler situation because they speak the language, have family and acquaintances, swiftly find somewhere to stay and most of them even swiftly find jobs.
He observed that at the border he spoke to a family which already had a rented flat in Nyíregyháza where they can move in with their five children, and can start work as early as tomorrow.
There are some who are more in need of assistance partly because they are not Hungarians and do not speak the language, and partly because they do not know whether they want to stay. In addition to Hungarian and Ukrainian refugees, he also spoke about refugees from third countries who were mostly students in Ukraine. They – Indians, Nigerians and Chinese – are also allowed to enter Hungary, and may return home from Budapest on the basis of agreements concluded with their embassies. At the same time, “we agreed” with those who do not want to lose their studies so far, and if they want to, they can return to universities in Hungary to finish their studies.
There is accommodation, for the time being, there are ample supplies, there will also be job opportunities, there are schools for children, we have interpreters, and given the circumstances, things are going smoothly, the Prime Minister said in summary, observing that Hungary is only able to help those who are in trouble, but the key to solving the situation and putting an end to these troubles “is over there, not in Hungary”.
In answer to a question, Mr Orbán said Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó is liaising both with the Russians and the Ukrainians; he has not spoken to anyone in person since the war broke out. In answer to the question as to whether he is planning to, he said “as and when the need arises, I will”.
The Prime Minister was asked about the Paks project. He said Paks II will be built “as scheduled,” it is to be hoped, “under the guidance of our government, the way we planned it”. Hungary and the Hungarian people need Paks II, without it Hungarian industry would be less competitive and the household energy costs of families would also be higher. Therefore, the government has no reason to change its earlier plans, and has no such intentions, he pointed out.
Regarding his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the beginning of February, Mr Orbán said the German Chancellor, the President of France and he himself had sought to accomplish peace missions. They all tried to prevent a war through negotiations between the Ukrainians and the Russians. “I believe that we did create an opportunity; we’re sorry that eventually this opportunity hasn’t materialised,” he said.
In answer to a question in English about what messages he has for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Orbán replied in English that he has no messages for them, only for the refugees who are present. His message for them is that Hungary is a good friend of Ukraine, “the Ukrainian people can count on us”. He said he does not believe that the leaders of Ukraine and Russia should seek his message or advice. They are “big boys,” “they know what to do better than I do”. Hungarians have wishes, and what they wish for is peace. The Hungarian Prime Minister stressed that he, too, wishes for peace from the bottom of his heart.
Responding to another question in English, he highlighted that they tried everything they could in the interest of talks. What is happening now is a war, and a war can only be stopped with talks, a ceasefire. This, however, does not depend on European leaders or the Hungarian prime minister, but on the Russians and the Ukrainians, fundamentally on the Russians, he said. The Hungarian government made every effort to facilitate talks, and offered the parties Budapest as the venue for their peace talks. Hungary will always be available if the Russians and the Ukrainians need it for concluding a peace agreement, Mr Orbán stressed.
Another foreign journalist mentioned that today the Hungarian government has a very different approach to the people arriving at the borders from that adopted in 2015. Mr Orbán said Hungarians do not live in the comfortable, safe West, but in the midst of difficulties and hardships, and this has been so for centuries. Following from this, “we are able to differentiate” between migrants and refugees. The Hungarian position is that migrants should be stopped, but refugees should be given all the help they need, the Prime Minister stated.