- Stay updated on the latest news from Hungary by signing up for the free InsightHungary newsletter:
"Hungary will not participate in a Russian oil ban", the country's Foreign Minister tells CNN
Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó spoke with CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday about the reasoning behind Hungary's purchase of Russian energy despite the war in Ukraine.
The host asked Szijjarto how he 'reconciles the fact that Hungary is contributing to Putin being able to prosecute this war' with the oil embargo exception. "We are not. Number one: We have a very small share regarding the European purchase of Russian fossil fuels. On the other hand, energy supply is a physical question. It's not philosophical, it's not political, it's not ideological. It's a physical question," the minister replied. "In case we had not asked for [the exception], it would be physically impossible to supply the country with enough oil. It is a matter of mathematics," he added.
Amanpour brought up Volodymyr Zelenskiy's video message to EU leaders in March, where he specifically addressed Hungary's nationalist Prime Minister, Viktor Orban. During his passionate speech, the Ukrainian President said that Orbán needed “to decide who you are with”. Szijjártó called the address a “very unfair statement,” because Hungary is “carrying out the largest humanitarian relief in the history of the country" referring to the high number of refugees arriving in Hungary.
The CNN host highlighted that while “Ukrainian, white, Christian refugees” are being welcomed in the Central European country, “not so white and not so Christian refugees coming in from the southern border,” are not accepted. Szijjarto said that the primary difference between these two groups is that those coming from the southern border are not refugees but 'illegal migrants'.
Forint at a new historic low
The Hungarian currency dropped to a new record low on Tuesday and continued to weaken. On Wednesday, the euro was at 416 forints while the US dollar rose above 404. The historic low comes despite the efforts of the Hungarian National Bank to hike up interest rates. At 12.2 percent, Hungary's inflation is one of the highest in Europe, Telex reports.
One of the reasons for the forint's weakening is the price caps that have been extended by the government and the ongoing rule of law procedure by the EU that could result in Hungary losing EU funds. Hungary has also imposed extra taxes on specific sectors that did not resonate well with foreign investors.
According to Gergely Gulyás, Minister of Prime Minister's Office, there is 'no link between the exchange rate and inflation'. During a press conference on Thursday, he said that the reason behind the weakening of the forint was the 'level of the public debt' and 'energy exposure'.
More people have died in covid in undeveloped areas of Hungary
Two years after the outbreak of Covid-19, researchers at Corvinus University have published a study that investigates the reasons behind the regional differences in mortality rates.
The research shows that the mortality rate [dure to the coronavirus] was much higher where the number of unemployed individuals was high. The map also shows that more people died in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas.
The study states that more people lost their lives in districts where hospitals were overwhelmed before the pandemic. In these areas, covid-related deaths were strongly influenced by how many nurses have worked alongside family practitioners. (Nurses were mainly responsible for those not in critical condition.) Although there are also significant regional differences in FP care, the authors of the study argued that it seems more urgent to increase the number of nurses.