Hungary sees no obligation to join euro: PM
(FRANKFURT) - Hungary is under no obligation to join the euro and doing so at the current juncture would be "irresponsible", the country's prime minister Viktor Orban said in a newspaper interview Wednesday.
Speaking to the business daily Handelsblatt a day before he is scheduled to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Orban argued that the eurozone crisis meant Hungary should no longer be expected to join the single currency simply because it had joined the European Union.
"At the time we signed the accession treaty, the eurozone was a very different place. An obligation to join the currency union cannot therefore be automatic," the leader said in extracts released ahead of publication of the full interview in the newspaper's Thursday edition.
At the current time, an introduction of the euro would even be "irresponsible," Orban argued.
It was clear that southern European states had adopted the euro much too soon.
"They weren't yet ready for it. We're not going to make that mistake," Orban said.
Orban said he would discuss Europe's future at his talks with Merkel on Thursday.
Both leaders were scheduled to hold a joint news conference on Thursday afternoon, after which Orban would give a speech at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a think tank.
Germany is Hungary's largest trading partner, accounting for around a quarter of the country's exports and imports.
Orban, whose right-wing Fidesz party won a two-thirds majority in parliament in 2010, has frequently clashed with Europe over many of his populist policies.
Hungary was one of the first countries that needed to be bailed out by the EU and the International Monetary Fund back in 2008.
And the Hungarian government attacked the IMF earlier this week with a defiant newspaper advertising campaign, even as Budapest sought a crucial new credit line from the institution.
Hungary sought financial assistance from the IMF and the EU last year, after the forint fell sharply and the government's borrowing costs on financial markets soared.
But negotiations have stalled and over the past year, Orban has gone back and forth over whether recession-hit Hungary needs an IMF-EU deal or not.
In September, Hungary rejected demands imposed by the IMF and EU in exchange for the assistance.
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