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Apr 04, 2016

With increased threat level in Europe, government seeks agreement on counter-terrorism planning

A five-party consultation was held on Friday at the Ministry of Interior regarding the Government’s counter-terrorism action plan which will be debated by the Cabinet on Monday, and in the wake of this debate, there will be another consultation with the parliamentary parties. After the Friday consultation, Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács said: there were no fundamental disagreements on professional issues, and an agreement may well be reached.

At the press conference held after the consultation, Károly Kontrát, minister of state at the Ministry of Interior said upon speaking about the details: the debate on the issues related to the Counter-Terrorism Information and Criminal Analysis Centre formed an important part of the meeting. According to plans, the organisation – which would summarise, consolidate and analyse the data gathered by the national security services and would make decisions on the basis of this work – would be set up effective as of 1 July, and would have a staff of some 130. The institution, which would be established as the legal successor of the Coordination Centre For Combatting Organised Crime, would not gather intelligence, and would have no investigative powers or network, he said.

According to Mr Kontrát’s evaluation, there is a chance that the establishment of the Centre will gain five-party support.

Regarding the regulations related to phone tapping, he said: the goal is to ensure that no one should be able to evade the laws with the aid of the new technical facilities. There appeared to be agreement on this issue as well on the part of the attendees, he said.

In answer to a question, Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács remarked: the planned legislative amendment would, as expected, be aimed at the rules applicable to the businesses which enable the use of the applications in question and distributors.

The Minister of State of the Ministry of Interior stressed: based on their experience, the attending representatives of the parliamentary parties approached the draft presented by Interior Minister Sándor Pintér in a professional and responsible manner. The draft legislation does not contain any excess powers compared with the legislation already in force in Western-Europe, he remarked.

Mr Kontrát told the press that the opposition, too, tabled proposals, for instance, for making some passages of the Penal Code more stringent. The interior minister said, as he quoted his words, that the government is open to discussing these proposals.

The government spokesperson stressed at the press conference: the level of the threat of terrorism has increased in Europe in consequence of the mass and uncontrolled influx of migrants, and it would be irresponsible for Hungary not to prepare for the current challenges arising therefrom. The competent authorities must be given the powers and tools they require for taking effective action, he added.

Mr Kovács highlighted that there was agreement between the Government and the attending parties on the common goal, the enhancement of the security of the Hungarian people.

Before the debate on the action plan by the government on Monday, it will be discussed by the national security cabinet, and the Ministry of Interior will also consult with Attila Péterfalvi, president of the National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, the spokesperson said.