The Prime Minister confirmed press reports of his planned meeting with Mr. Barroso on 23 April, in connection with discussions between Hungary and the EU. He said that ‘Every day we move a little closer to our goal and things are going in the right direction, even though the pace is not what we might have hoped for.’
With regard to EU infringement proceedings, he said that Hungary had sent the European Commission its answers to outstanding questions, and a response is expected in the near future. If subsequently there are still some outstanding points, then clearly proceedings will be launched in accordance with the EU’s basic treaties – at some point the debate must be brought to a conclusion. The Prime Minister said that ‘Brussels is not Moscow. We remember that Moscow would independently decide on issues related to Hungary, while in the EU such matters are decided according to democratic, legally-based procedures.’ The Prime Minister said that there are Member States with more than one hundred such unresolved matters being dealt with, and the questions related to Hungary are a fraction of this.
On the subject of IMF negotiations, Mr. Orbán said that Hungary is itself a member of the IMF, and so it would be unimaginable and unacceptable for the Fund to impose conditions on one member which it would not impose on another. In the recent past the organisation has offered support based purely on financial criteria to countries such as Bosnia, Pakistan and Belarus.
The Prime Minister said that he would see it as blackmail if the European Union were to impose political conditions on Hungary as a prerequisite to an IMF agreement. If the EU were to take such a decision, it should not only be firmly rejected by Hungary, but also by all other Member States.
The Prime Minister made it clear that Hungarians and the Hungarian government do not want to live under the tyranny of debt. In the two preceding terms of government, government debt grew to such an extent that, in practice, ninety per cent of personal income tax paid by Hungarians today leaves the country immediately, in order to pay the debt. ‘This cannot continue or we will be overwhelmed. We want to break out of the spiral,’ said Mr. Orbán.
In reply to a question on several other countries’ adoption of methods used by Hungary to stabilise the budget, the Prime Minister said that it is clear that everyone is seeking the economic model that can see them through the next 20 to 25 years. Hungary has a vision for how this should be achieved: to build on employment and to aim for increased employment, and therefore to cut taxes on income. The Prime Minister said that there has been no government decision on a transaction tax, but the Cabinet will discuss it. The tax regime must not be amended mid-year except in extreme circumstances, and he said that such a situation does not exist now. It is possible, however, that in the 2013 budget employment-related taxes will be even lower, and that the burden will be shifted towards consumption and transactions.
On the nomination of the next President of Hungary, he repeated that the parties and Parliament had a role in this. The leadership meeting of Fidesz was held the same morning (13 April), and the combined governing parliamentary fraction will meet on 16 April to agree on the nomination. Mr. Orbán said that ‘Somebody is needed who represents stability and who displays self-confidence. The whole of European civilization faces a difficult period. Renewal is proceeding very slowly and so Hungary’s primary need is security.’
The Premier also spoke of government efforts to promote job creation in agriculture, and he once again expressed his outrage at the anti-Semitic tone of a statement in Parliament last Monday by a Jobbik opposition MP. ‘Hungary’s constitutional system is clear, and its Constitution states that human dignity is inviolable – there are few constitutions in the EU which declare this so categorically. Hungary will protect all communities living in the country, and those communities can rely on both the Government and on me in person.’