- 10 Oct 2017 8:44 AM
According to Mr Lázár, while the European Commission claimed victory regarding the mandatory quotas, the truth is that the quota scheme, the automatic distribution mechanism has failed as Malta alone has fulfilled its allotted quota. At the same time, infringement proceedings have only been instituted against three Member States, he remarked.
The head of the Prime Minister’s Office took the view that the German elections, too, highlighted that European citizens are afraid of immigration. Mr Lázár confirmed that Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission and the Prime Ministers of the Visegrád Four (V4) will hold a working dinner the evening before the October meeting of the European Council.
Regarding the national consultation concerning the Soros plan, the Minister said: every elector will have the opportunity to state their opinion. The Government can only achieve results if the electors work together with it, he said.
The immigration consultations have special significance as those who take a firm stance on the issue of immigration support the Government’s policy, Mr Lázár added.
In answer to the question as to whether the national consultation will yield Fidesz political benefits, the Minister said: he does not believe so, he personally does not perform his duties as Minister on the basis of whether or not Fidesz will benefit from them. At the same time, the Government needs ongoing feedback on the issue of immigration. The protection of the country and a sense of security will naturally be important considerations at the elections for sober-minded electors, he remarked.
The Minister also spoke about the debates surrounding the camps organised for the children of migrants, stressing: those who are staying in Hungary as legal refugees may rely on the Hungarian State. In his view, organisations which did not contact the Hungarian State for help, but chose to select a guesthouse in a small locality for taking the children on holiday acted in an irresponsible manner.
They should have turned to the Hungarian State instead which is most certainly able to help as testified to by the operation of the Erzsébet Camps, he said. He further added that the organisers concerned should have provided more detailed information regarding the circumstances under which they would implement their project.
Kindergarten and crèche development programme to be launched beyond the borders
Upon evaluating Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s recent visit to Transylvania, Mr Lázár said: the visit demonstrated that it is well worth for the Hungarian people to cooperate with one another.
He said: the Government is launching a kindergarten and crèche development programme worth HUF 21 billion beyond the borders because its goal is to achieve that in two to three years’ time, instead of the 48 thousand last year, some 60 thousand children should be able to attend kindergartens and crèches in territories beyond the borders in the Carpathian Basin. He added: these are mostly institutions operated by historical churches.
The Government would like Central-Europe to claim victory together with the neighbouring countries, he stated, describing the V4 cooperation as one of the greatest achievements in recent periods in which Hungary is a key player.
There will be pension supplements
There will be pension supplements in November 2017, Mr Lázár announced. The Minister said in justification that the economy is doing well, and pensioners, too, must have a share of the joint achievements and the country’s overall performance.
In evaluation of the decisions adopted since 2010, he said: the reduction of household utility charges has proved its worth, and the purchasing power of pensions has been successfully preserved. He said: after the spring pension increase, there will be a one-sum adjustment in November in accordance with the relevant legislation, and there will additionally also be pension supplements.
He further reported: they are working on ensuring that those concerned should also be given Erzsébet vouchers in December. This will depend on the economic statistics of the next few months.
Mr Lázár took the view that, due to the improvement of competitiveness, it is important that gas and electricity should not only be cheap for members of the public and businesses, but it is equally important how long it takes to purchase electricity and gas, and how the relevant capacity can be increased and accessed. The Government is seeking to remove every obstacle in this field, he highlighted.
Government to investigate how to help students wronged in Czeglédy case
The Minister also informed the press that the Government is looking into the possibility of helping students who were wronged in the Czeglédy case.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán asked Minister of National Economy Mihály Varga to look into the request of the National Interest Representation Federation of Hungarian Student Businesses in the case, and if possible, to provide help for the wronged students whose exact number they are as yet unfamiliar with, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office informed the press, indicating: the Government will seek to provide 100 per cent compensation, and would like to bring the case to a close within weeks.
The Federation contacted Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Speaker of the House László Kövér in a letter, seeking their assistance with providing state compensation for the students wronged by the business of Csaba Czeglédy (Éljen Szombathely!-MSZP-DK-Együtt), councillor of the Szombathely Municipality, and with attempting to restore the faith of the public in the school cooperative market.
Mr Lázár described the Czeglédy case as the common criminal case of MSZP and DK.
Excess funds for tourism
The Minister also told the press that during the period extending to 2030, excess funds worth HUF 600 to 800 billion will be allocated to tourism which will serve as a pledge of growth. Tourism accounts for 9 to 10 per cent of the GDP today, and the Government would like to increase this share to 16-17 per cent, he said, remarking: there are reserves in the sector.
As he said, they will focus on the development directions designated by the tourism agencies, and the first call for proposals will be released in the next few days which will permit small guesthouses to carry out developments.
Regarding the comprehensive agreement signed by the Cabinet and the Reformed Church on Wednesday, the Minister said: the Government supports historical churches in the fulfilment of their tasks related to the operation of kindergartens and schools and in the provision of social care services. The current agreement confirms: the State has a vested interest in ensuring that the Reformed Church perform its activities successfully, he added.
Upon disclosing the latest decisions of the Cabinet, he highlighted: an innovation centre will be built in Debrecen, they will provide support for the Hungarian Academy of Arts with the construction of an architecture museum, the Government will significantly increase the allocation of grants available for the purchase of general practitioner and dental practices and is ready to support all applicants, and the Government has approved the fulfilment of tasks related to state receivables by the tax authority.
Hungary does not support setting up of European Public Prosecutor’s Office
In answer to a question concerning the infringement procedure instituted on account of the NGO legislation, the Minister said: they are not planning to amend the law. In actual fact, he requested a report on the case from Hungary’s Permanent Representation in Brussels.
It transpires from the report that the Hungarian NGO legislation prescribes obligations for non-governmental organisations operating here which the European Commission itself has employed for years, he said, accusing the Brussels body of the use of double standards which is, in his view, conducting procedures against Hungary on the basis of political requests.
Regarding the CEU, he likewise informed the press that they will not change the higher education law. The Government will have to determine at the level of experts as to whether the CEU’s New York agreement complies with the Hungarian statutory regulations, he said.
Concerning the fact that Hungary does not support the setting up of a European Public Prosecutor’s Office, he said: this is an issue of principle, Hungary is opposed to the idea because it does not wish to grant Brussels any further powers.
The Minister said in connection with an oncology centre to be built in Vietnam as part of an aid programme: the Government is making every effort to take part in the programmes of the UN and other international organisations, and reviews year after year which ones are required. He added: they have recently spent HUF 500 billion on health care developments. At the same time, there is always a sum that could be rivalled.
Mr Lázár was also asked about the fact that Hungary will conclude a new long-term gas supply agreement with Gazprom for the period beyond 2021. As he said, this was preceded by thorough calculations, Russian gas is the cheapest for Hungary, and is safe to convey. He mentioned the fact that some 4 million households operate with gas, and if they do not want them to be left without heating, it is good to have a long-term agreement.
In answer to a question concerning the law on symbols of despotism which also affects Heineken, he said: he does not believe realistically that any progress will be made by December, but according to the preliminary position of the European Commission, the passage of the law would not be unlawful.
The Minister dismissed questions concerning his personal future as „political hot air”, as he said, journalists „overhype the story”. He also said that „Fidesz is a robust political force, with a membership, a rather large number of voters, and a candidate for Prime Minister. On the other side there are quite a few candidates for Prime Minister, but neither membership, nor voters”.
In commenting on the resignation of candidate for Prime Minister László Botka, he said as Fidesz politician, but not on behalf of the Government: it is sad that the left has come to this, Hungarian social democratic and left-wing traditions would deserve better representation. „But this is the sort of thing where Botka is off the stage, and in comes Gyurcsány, the show continues”, he remarked, adding: in his view, Ferenc Gyurcsány will reconquer MSZP and the left.
In answer to another suggestion, he likened Hungarian politics to an operetta, with reference to „Botka’s departure” and „Gyurcsány’s show”, as well as to the „Veszprém dawns”. He said in response to billionaire entrepreneur Lajos Simicska’s latest incident: if someone has wealth or talent, it is best if they use it to the country’s advantage, rather than for pursuing campaigns against others.
Mr Lázár said: it is an important aspiration of Fidesz to ensure that the country’s blood pressure should be 120/80, rather than 180/120. He would like everyone to calm down a little, he said.
Mr Lázár said in response to a question regarding the loss of some of the government party’s intellectual voter base: he has friends in intellectual circles who voice serious doubts about whether to cast their votes for Fidesz once again. In answer to the question as to why this may be the case, he said: „because we have been in government for eight years, and in those eight years we have done good things, but there have also been things that have not quite proved to be the success they were intended to be”.
In answer to another question, he said: it is completely out of the question that the Constitution Protection Office handed over the case of Béla Kovács suspected of espionage to the prosecution service under political pressure. This is a case which reached the stage of pressing charges, he added, indicating: the investigation took multiple directions which were suitable for considering the suspicion of criminal acts, and it was these that were handed over.
The Minister took the view in response to a question related to Mol’s Újbuda skyscraper that there is no need for constructing buildings in Budapest that are taller than the Basilica, it is a cherishable value for the city if it has no skyscrapers. The planned 120-metre-tall building will be an affront to the scenery, he remarked, adding: the Government has no legal means to interfere with the implementation of the project.
Republished with permission of Hungary Matters, MTI’s daily newsletter.
Photo: Károly Árvai/kormany.hu