Orbán declares state of emergency due to war in Ukraine

Hungary’s government declared a state of emergency in order to be able to respond more quickly to challenges created by the war in neighboring Ukraine, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a video Tuesday.

The new state of emergency empowers Orbán’s government to approve measures by decree, citing the economic crisis caused by the war and the sanctions against Russia.

Critics fear that the move will only serve to tighten Orbán’s grip on power in the Central European country, threatening fundamental rights and diminishing the importance of parliament.

But Orbán is undeterred. “We have seen that the war and sanctions from Brussels have brought about a great economic upheaval and drastic price rises,” he said. “The world is on the brink of an economic crisis. Hungary has to stay out of this war and has to protect the financial security of families.”

The state of emergency “will allow the government to react immediately and protect Hungary and Hungarian families by all possible means,” the prime minister said, adding that he will give more details about it Wednesday.

The Hungarian prime minister won a fourth consecutive term in an election last month. He has used this special legal order in prior instances such as the migration crisis or during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, EU member countries are searching for a way to save their plan to ban imports of Russian oil. For the past two weeks, Orbán has refused to sign up to the sixth package of sanctions, citing the severe cost to his economy of stopping imports of Russian fuel.