Viktor Orban: We will get out of this misery

Viktor Orban. (Photo: V4 Agency)

We will get out of this misery and put up with it as long as it lasts. Our healthcare system and economy will work and, instead of backing down, we will keep Hungary’s chances alive to emerge stronger from the crisis, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told the HUngarian TV2 channel in a recent interview.

The coronavirus epidemic shows an upward trend in Hungary, so the elderly still need to be protected, Viktor Orban began the interview.

He said the defence mechanism was different now than in was in the spring, when the country was completely closed because no one knew when the vaccine would be available. Now we are closer to a solution. Brussels expects the vaccine to be ready next year, US sources say it may be developed before the end of this year. The progress in China and Japan is also encouraging, but we are still cautious when it comes to the Russian vaccine, the prime minister added. If there is a vaccine, there will be “a relief, a sense of deliverance,” but in the meantime, we still have to continue our defence.

Early in the summer, the question was how the country would defend itself if the second wave arrived. The government asked Hungarian people about this during the national consultation and it turned out that although they want to have a defence mechanism, they do not want the country to come to a halt. In other words, “the country must function”.

“The government must find a way to protect the elderly and keep the schools – as well as life – up and running. This is not a small thing to ask, it’s a very difficult task,” Viktor Orban added. If health workers persevere and are able to manage the growing pressure, then we will succeed, he stressed.

Regarding healthcare, the prime minister said there are enough beds, equipment and people, but it will be necessary to redeploy doctors and nurses to other hospitals, even other towns, and these steps will never be popular.

Speaking about the economy, Viktor Orban said that the introduction of a moratorium on loan repayment was a great help to businesses and individuals. He stressed that in order to protect jobs, businesses must be helped through tax cuts, investments and development. He added that in a worst-case scenario, the state can also help with employment, adding that a public employment scheme is also in place as a third option. Regarding the latter, he noted that it will be necessary to increase wages in the public employment scheme.

Talking about the ongoing relocation of labour, production and capacities around the world, all induced by the pandemic, he pointed out that this is a competition that we also need to enter. Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto will be entrusted with this task, so he will be in charge of trying to build up a competitive edge even during the crisis, allowing “Hungary to overtake others on bends”, so to speak.

Towards the end of the interview, the prime minister said he was not just concerned about his elderly grandmother and parents when the virus appeared. “The enemy was unknown; we didn’t know this virus. I stayed alert to find out whether or not – besides the elderly – our children were also in trouble… because that would have been disastrous,” he added.

“There will be a point when we will get through this situation, we will have a vaccine and we will make arrangements to make it available in time for all those who need it. We will rid ourselves of this misery and, up to that point, we’ll have to endure it. Healthcare will function, the economy will work and, instead of backing down, but we will ensure a chance for Hungary to emerge stronger from the crisis. We already succeeded once, so we will succeed again, I am convinced. The key is that we take care of each other in the meantime,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban concluded.