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May 15, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

PM Orbán on European Court decision: There is a coordinated assault on Hungary and our laws, but our constitution will prevail

In his Friday morning interview on Kossuth Radio, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán discussed the possibility of lifting restrictions in Budapest, the government’s job creation programs, transit zones, the court ruling on the case concerning the Roma community in Gyöngyöspata, and the decision handed down yesterday by the European Court of Justice concerning migration and border protection.

The ruling of the European Court of Justice, said Prime Minister Orbán, is about trying to maneuver around Hungarian laws and the Hungarian constitution, so that in the end, they can bring migrants to Hungary. But they won't be able to trick us, he said. It is quite clear that if the Court of Justice of the European Union makes a decision that conflicts with the Hungarian Constitution, the Hungarian Constitution must prevail.

There is a coordinated assault on Hungary, as evidenced by this ruling, the prime minister said. “Migration remains the main plan of the bureaucrats in Brussels, and they would like to bring migrants into Hungary somehow.”

Turning to other EU affairs, PM Orbán said that the verdict from Thursday’s hearing in the European Parliament was decided before any witnesses were heard. “The European Parliament's behavior is not surprising, and we can bear it,” he added.

“We are in the middle of a pandemic, and Hungary has been one of the most successful countries in defending against it,” the PM pointed out. “What is really worrying is that the bureaucrats in Brussels, who are paid by us, are busy attacking one of the most successful countries [against the pandemic] instead of helping the people. We created the Union to help, not hinder us,” he stressed.

PM Orbán also spoke about the latest coronavirus update, that more people are now recovering than becoming infected. However, the preventive measures should not come to a halt, he added. They were able to ease measures outside of the capital, and now Pest County has also reached this stage.

But Budapest is a different matter, the prime minister said. People no longer have to stay home, but they should be responsible and maintain social distancing. Since we are talking about human lives, we must act carefully in the case of Budapest, the PM added.

“In Budapest, the situation is the most difficult due to the high population density. If we are not disciplined enough in Budapest and infections increase again after lifting the ban, we cannot physically isolate districts,” the prime minister said, emphasizing that Budapest must be treated as a whole. PM Orbán said he will consult with non-governmental experts on Saturday morning, adding that they will decide on the next steps to take in Budapest early Saturday afternoon.

We started to open the playgrounds in the countryside, the prime minister said, but local municipalities still need to improve the on-call duty for nurseries and kindergartens, as children currently cannot go to their normal places but only designated nurseries and kindergartens. It would be good if everyone could take their children to where they belong, Orbán said, and until this issue is resolved, elementary schools and high schools cannot be dealt with. No one knows if schools will open this year, but they must be careful, as children can take the disease home, infecting parents and grandparents as well, Prime Minister Orbán said.

Next week, restaurants and cafés in the countryside can open their inside areas to the public, and weddings for up to 200 people can be held. However, it is important to maintain safe distancing from one another. Budapest will follow the changes in the countryside with a delay of two weeks, he added. “If everyone can behave responsibly, we can move on to the second stage of defense.”

Regarding the economy, industrial production in Europe fell dramatically in March and tourism disappeared. “In Hungary, industrial production fell by 10 percent in March, which is a lot, but I feel we took the hurdles better than most European countries. We are expected to be able to return to our previous track starting in June,” the PM said. Hungary must create as many jobs as the virus destroys, he said, emphasizing that the foundation of the economy is work.

There is a state job creation program, one element of which is public employment, where up to 200,000 people can be employed. The military has also started recruiting. In addition, the government has introduced wage subsidies for research and development as well as general wage subsidies, and 5,400 businesses have submitted requests for this so far, with the salaries of 74,000 people being supported.

The prime minister said that there have been several significant tax cuts recently. These, along with investment support and job protection tools, can help create as many jobs as have been destroyed. “We have won the first battle against the epidemic,” the prime minister said. Based on the partial data, the epidemic has been curbed.

Regarding the decision in Gyöngyöspata, the PM said that the issue should be approached on a principled basis. According to him, the main question is whether a minority is able to build a network where it forces its will on the majority. The majority also need to feel at home, he added. It seems that the Soros organizations launched this action with well-trained lawyers for a lot of money. The court decision as it stands is not fair.

“The truth about Gyöngyöspata is not visible, but we will look for it,” the prime minister said, adding that the government will be instituting legislative changes to prevent the situation that arose in Gyöngyöspata from ever happening again.