Hello, Prime Minister.
Yes, I’m ready for your questions.
What assistance can Hungary offer people coming here through the border checkpoints?
Firstly, the most important thing is that we have excellent mayors. In recent days the area’s mayors have met several times, and I can see that their willingness to help and their organisational abilities are helping the new arrivals through this difficult time. I’ve also spoken to the border guards and our police officers; and – bearing in mind that this is a conflict situation, which is so serious and difficult – I have to say that everything is proceeding in an organised, orderly and calm way, at a calm pace. We’re letting in everybody. I’ve seen some people who don’t have travel documents, and we’re providing them with travel documents. People from third countries are also being allowed in, after appropriate screening. So at the moment the work is going well – but we mustn’t get carried away or become over-optimistic, because the hard part is still ahead of us. On the other side of the border from here there’s a war in progress. Its front line is still far away and hasn’t yet entered Transcarpathia, and no serious military action has arrived there yet; but if this war drags on, there will be military action there too, and we must be prepared to deal with its consequences. For us the most important thing is to help those who are coming over, because humanity comes first. But on the other hand we don’t want to get involved and become embroiled in this war, in this military conflict. So as the line of armed confrontations approaches Hungary’s borders, soldiers, the police, mayors and Members of Parliament must be ever more disciplined and determined; because in the coming week there is a need for the strongest possible composure. So we’re giving all the help we can.
Prime Minister, Zsolt Z. Pintye, from M1. Local governments have been making independent efforts to set up shelters and accommodation. How can the Government support them?
Yesterday, or the day before yesterday, the Minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s Office was here. He met dozens of mayors, and together they discussed everything needed by the people coming here, and by the local governments. And they will get it. I cannot speak highly enough of the Hungarians; according to what the mayors have told us, we’re showing our best characteristics. The population – the local people here – are welcoming and helpful, and the public are assisting those families arriving here who are unable to move on quickly. So among the people living here I see friendship between Hungarians and Ukrainians, and the Ukrainians are enjoying the tangible benefits of this. They’re coming to a friendly place: when they come over here, they find friends waiting for them. The Mayor also says that families are making sacrifices, they’re showing dedication, and they’re helpful.
Prime Minister, Nick Thorpe from the BBC. Might I ask a question in English?
When you met President Putin in Russia, did he give you any indication that he was about to invade Ukraine? And secondly, do you plan to make any economic adjustments to your policies towards Russia as a result of this invasion?
First of all, prior to my meeting and after my meeting I had a consultation with the Secretary General of NATO. So I delivered and reported all the information what I have got, and was useable for preparing of this situation. Second, of course, we have to adjust everything. Yesterday – or two days ago – we had a summit in Brussels and Hungary made clear that we support all the sanctions. So we will block nothing. So what the prime ministers of the European Union are able to agree with, we accept it and support it. We don’t block it. This is not the time to be clever; this is the time to be united. It’s a war. And what we have to do is to get back to the situation which was prior to the war: so restore peace. Otherwise hundreds of people will die in the forthcoming days. So peace efforts are the most important one, and that’s how I’ve tried to contribute in the last week – in Moscow, in Brussels, and in the NATO headquarters as well.
Did you delay in your condemnation of Russia? You’ve spoken of the need to for Ukraine to survive this – that it’s in Hungary’s interests. You were rather slow, were you not, to condemn this Russian aggression.
No. We condemned together with all the European leaders. So there’s a unity on that. Russia is condemned by all of the European leaders – among them Hungary as well.
Is there a Hungarian question?
Yes. Prime Minister, in the light of recent events, how do you assess your recent meeting with Putin? You called it a peace mission, didn’t you? What do you think of it now? I’m from RTL Klub.
Well, I think that in the last ten days, several European leaders made serious efforts, and we weren’t the most prominent among them. The Chancellor of Germany was there, the President of France was there, and I was there. We did everything humanly possible to avoid what has happened. These peace missions proved unsuccessful. All the efforts made by the European Union have failed, and now we must concentrate our efforts on returning from war to peace.
Is it really true that Hungary is the only EU Member State that opposes the exclusion of the Russians from the SWIFT [banking transaction] system?
The opposite is true. This is a scare story. It is disinformation. I ask you, too, to prepare yourselves for the fact that disinformation is quite common in a war. So give credence to what we say. At the summit on Thursday, Hungary made it clear that we support any sanctions on which there is consensus within the EU. We’re not blocking anything. Any news to the contrary is quite simply fake news or disinformation. I repeat: this is a war; we must also prepare ourselves for disinformation warfare.
So, if appropriate, can this also be understood as taking action against banks in Hungary with Russian interests?
There is a sanctions list. It was approved yesterday. Hungary is implementing what is on it.
Okay, let me ask one last question. I understand that men between the ages of 18 and 60 who are not exempted from military service are not now being allowed to cross the border. If they nevertheless do, whether they’re Ukrainian or Hungarian citizens, will Hungarian citizens be acting correctly if they help them on their way, or if they report them to the Hungarian authorities? So what’s Hungary’s stance on these soldiers coming across the border as military deserters?
Anyone who enters the territory of Hungary is subject to Hungarian jurisdiction, and we will act in accordance with Hungarian law. Therefore we will help everyone. The rule is that every refugee must be helped. Are there any more questions?
Thank you. Keep up the good work!