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‘Don’t panic!’ – Reactions to the war in Ukraine

March 9th, 2022

A left-wing commentator calls on Hungarians not to lose their heads, as many start getting rid of their Forints, queuing up for passports, and piling up iodine pills.

In 168 óra, Emese F. Szabó believes Hungarians should not convert their forints hastily into foreign currencies, after the rate to the Euro briefly touched 400 Forints on Monday. (It was around 365 before the war in Ukraine). She warns that by selling their forints at such a moment, a significant loss that might well be recovered once the panic is over will become irreversible. In the same way, she believes the rush for iodine tablets is an excessive reaction to the salvos that were fired at a Ukrainian nuclear power plant last week. No substantial attack took place, she emphasizes, that could breach the containment buildings of the plant. Iodine tablets can in any case only be taken for a short time, and therefore should only be considered if it becomes really necessary. She finds it similarly superfluous for Hungarians to rush for their passports to be issued. The surge in applications resulted in long waiting lists, with appointments not available before May in some offices. Hungarians can travel with their identity cards throughout Europe if they want, she remarks. What she finds really disquieting, on the other hand, is galloping inflation. This was already at 7 percent before the war started and, unlike the panic-factors above, Szabó concludes, it is here to stay.

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