- 20 Jul 2016 9:00 AM
Mr Lázár said that, according to Dimitris Avramopoulos’s proposals disclosed on Wednesday, Hungary should agree to fully integrate the immigrants imported into Hungary on a mandatory basis, and the EU would provide aid worth EUR 10,000 for the purpose. The Minister described the proposal as scandalous, and in his view it goes beyond the mandatory settlement quotas.
He reiterated that immigrants would be brought here from the countries from which they set out, and every Member State would be required to take part in the distribution scheme. Should any of the Member States elect to opt out, this would carry obvious sanctions, he said.
He told the press that the European Parliament (EP) had recently adopted a proposal with the support of Hungarian left-wing Members of the European Parliament, based on which a monetary fine would be imposed on the States which do not take part in the settlement scheme.
Mr Lázár believes that the EU has before it György Soros’s proposal to the effect that the costs of settlement, or the „adventure”, should be raised through the levying of a separate tax, but there is another proposal which would reduce the cohesion funds granted to the Member States.
Electors are able to reinforce the Government in its efforts to prevent forced settlement
The Minister described the part of the proposal, based on which Hungary could even select the people it chooses to bring into the country as inhumane, and contrary to the European ideal. This is like a market trading in humans, he said.
The politician stated: they respect every country’s voluntary programme for taking in migrants, and consider this an internal affair falling within the realm of national sovereignty, but it is inconceivable that Hungary should adopt the mandatory quotas.
In his assessment, the left-wing groups of the European Commission and the European Parliament are working together on the settlement of migrants, and they are coming up with new proposals to this effect day after day. This is one of the reasons why there is a need for the quota referendum initiated by the Government which is scheduled for 2 October.
It is Hungarian electors who will be able to reinforce the Government’s efforts to prevent the settlement of migrants, he stressed.
In answer to a question, he said that he finds it inconceivable that Brussels „should sweep” the quota referendum, the prospective outcome of „direct democracy off the table”. In his view, the Hungarian referendum would not only not curtail European integration, but could be „a factor of stabilisation”.
His personal conviction regarding the EU is, he said, that the European Council should be reinforced over the European Commission which continually „extends beyond its powers”.
Mr Lázár said in response to the findings of human rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch that it is a lie and unfounded accusation that the police beat up anyone within the zone of eight kilometres from the border. The measures implemented by the police were professional.
The policing and border guarding measures fully complied with the statutory regulations, were fair, and were implemented in observance of the provisions of the Dublin Regulations and the Schengen Agreement relating to Hungary, he stressed.
According to his information, some 450-500 people were taken back to the border from within a distance of eight kilometres from the border where they were informed where they are able to submit their asylum requests. He told the press that the police document their actions on video.
Europe’s citizens are opposed to quota system
Mr Lázár further said that the Turkey-EU agreement does not solve the problem related to immigration. The solution is the security border fence. In explanation, he pointed out that according to the latest data the EU has taken over eight hundred immigrants from Turkey to date, while Greece has handed over 468 immigrants to Turkey. At the same time, over 17,000 people have arrived at the border of Hungary this year alone.
He also reiterated a public opinion poll conducted by Századvég which concluded that 70 to 80 per cent of the citizens of the Central-European States are opposed to the mandatory quota system, but in Spain, too, the majority are against the scheme. He reported that there have been 17,787 incidents of illegal border crossing this year.
The Hungarian Government is unable to support a scheme of importing work force into Hungary from abroad, the Minister pointed out in the context that the Confederation of Hungarian Employers and Industrialists suggested that, should the need emerge, arrangements should be made for the employment in Hungary of qualified work force coming from third countries. He added: the Government wishes to address the unemployment of the people living here, and this is why it is working on the reform of vocational training and the reinforcement of the family support system. He remarked: once there is full employment in Hungary, job opportunities in Hungary may then be offered to Hungarian nationals living in territories beyond the borders.
EC suggests credit arrangement for refurbishment of metro line 3
The European Commission is not opposed to the refurbishment of metro line 3 in Budapest. At the same time, experts from the body recommend that the metropolitan municipality should take out a loan for the project as its costs will be recovered, Mr Lázár said.
In this context, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office was asked about the report of the daily Népszabadság: Budapest will be compelled to take out a loan of some HUF 139 billion for the refurbishment of metro line 3 in Budapest as Brussels informed Hungary informally that it will not be eligible for grants for the refurbishment of the metro line.
He said that Metropolitan Mayor István Tarlós attended the latest government meeting as a guest, as part of which they reviewed the metropolitan transport development programmes, and agreed that the development of metro line 3 is in Hungary’s best interests.
He added: the European Commission does not wish to finance everything in the same arrangement in compliance with the European regulations. One solution is the taking out of a loan for the project from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Should the metropolitan municipality decide to take out a loan, the Government is ready to provide a guarantee in conjunction with such a facility, and decided accordingly at its latest meeting, the Minister indicated.
According to Mr Lázár, the Commission did not only say that they are unable to provide a non-refundable loan for this project, but also indicated that they recommend a credit arrangement.
The Minister pointed out: he has not yet received the document which closes this question, but he believes that there will be no EU funds available for the metro refurbishment project. In explanation he added: the percentage of repayable grants will significantly increase in the European grants policy, and the European Commission supports preferential credit arrangements.
Mr Lázár said that, according to the European Commission’s calculations, the loan to be taken out for the metro renovation project can be financed and would be recovered. According to the Minister, recovery is possible on account of the high usage rate of the metro line.
As regards the City Park (Városliget) project, he told the press that the Government had adopted all decisions related to the City Park, had allocated the necessary funds, and the construction works may begin after two years of preparations. The Government no longer wishes to take a stance on this issue, as the questions of implementation fall within the competence of those whom the Government appointed for the purpose, he said.
Demonstrators rely on the erroneous presumption that the percentage of green areas will decrease. The goal of the Government is to increase the percentage of green areas. They are planning a landscaping programme worth HUF 15 billion, and will attempt to rescue every tree, by covering the costs of replanting if necessary, Mr Lázár said.
In his view, there will be some who will continue to remain opposed to the City Park project also during the period to come. They will have to be given the opportunity to protest lawfully against the project, while construction workers will have to be provided with appropriate working conditions. The latter is the contractor’s responsibility.
New state utility expense reduction consultation has begun
Mr Lázár further informed the press: another consultation has begun regarding the reduction of state utility expenses in the district and government offices. They are expecting citizens’ views regarding the procedures where further simplifications would be required as part of the reduction of bureaucracy in public administration by 19 August. They are additionally seeking the people’s opinions on the licensing procedures that should be altered, and the services – which are currently pay services – that should be made cheaper or free of charge.
Upon informing the press about the Government’s activities in the first half of the year, the Minister reported that they held twenty meetings in the first six months, the Government discussed 648 proposals – some 19,500 pages of documents – in total, and adopted 182 decrees and 355 decisions.
Austrian Chancellor to pay a visit to Budapest
Mr Lázár also told the press that Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern will pay a visit to Budapest on 26 July as expected at the invitation of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
The purpose of the visit is to open a new chapter in Hungarian-Austrian relations, he said, adding that the principal issue of the negotiations will be the development of a joint position on immigration and the establishment of a framework for cooperation. Additionally, the parties will also seek to make efforts to reinforce economic cooperation between the two countries.
Mr Lázár said that he will travel to Vienna on Monday in order to consult with respect to the programme of the Chancellor’s visit. The Minister further told the press that the Hungarian Government is expecting the leaders of the new British Government, too, to be good allies of Hungary, similar to the Cabinet of David Cameron.
In answer to another question, he highlighted that after 45-50 years of communism, independence is very important in Central-Europe, something that cannot be given up. „We did not quit the Soviet Union in order to be the members of another union, but we exited the Soviet Union in the hope that we may finally become independent and sovereign”, he said.
He further informed the press that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is expecting information from the Interior and Agricultural Ministers regarding the storm damage of recent days and weeks and the measures contemplated for its alleviation for the government meeting to be held next week.
In evaluation of the latest economic indicators, Mr Lázár said that the deficit of the budget will be under 2 per cent under any circumstances this year. At the same time, he highlighted: the expansion of industrial performance is reassuring regarding the prospects for growth.
Mr Lázár said in response to the suspension of Uber’s activities: he would have been happier if the company had undertaken to observe the rules of the game. „The fact that Uber decided not to do so and chose to withdraw its operations from Hungary makes it obvious that it is all about money.”
In answer to a question regarding the fate of the Balaton development project worth HUF 300 billion, the Minister said: the resources are not being withdrawn, the funds are available. In his view, however, Lake Balaton need not be declared a priority development area. „What we need is high-quality projects.” „The Balaton label does not deserve extra points upon the assessment”, he said.
The Minister confirmed in answer to a question that as part of his summer programme, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will receive the leaders of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary (Mazsihisz). In preparation for this, Mr Lázár had talks with Mazsihisz last week. „There were comments which are sensitive for our Jewish compatriots in Hungary, and the Government, too, will have to pay attention to these.
This was one of the key points of the talks”, he said. The head of the Prime Minister’s Office will meet with the leaders of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation (EMIH) next week.
Mr Lázár was asked about the news reports which claim that the Főnix Civil Society in Slovakia is unable to render an account of the grant of HUF 200 million they received from the Prime Minister’s Office. The Minister said that the State Secretariat for National Policy provided a grant of a significant amount for this civil-society organisation. He added: they are required to render an account of the subsidised programme. He is not aware of any extraordinary circumstances regarding the awarding or settlement of the grants.
In answer to a question, the Minister further told the press that there are no official out-of-court negotiations with Lipót Mór’s heirs who instituted a lawsuit against the Hungarian State in the United States in order to secure the return of pieces of the late banker’s collection comprised at one time of some 2,500 art works which were confiscated during the Holocaust and are today in Hungary.
MTI Photo: Tibor Illyés
Republished with permission of Hungary Matters, MTI’s daily newsletter.