Mar 04, 2016

Greece Wants to Force Immigration on Hungary

Greece is intervening in the lawsuit which Hungary instituted against the mandatory settlement quotas; Greece’s intervention is “anti-Hungary”, János Lázár, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office said at the press conference „Governmentinfo 41 – What does the Government do and why?” which he held jointly with Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács.

The Minister said that Greece wants to force immigration on Hungary.

Mr Lázár pointed out upon speaking about migrants that Hungary is not refusing to provide assistance, but if „we help these people here, in Hungary, they will come here, whereas if we help them where the problem is, they will stay there”. He indicated that the Hungarian Government is also prepared to take part in the funding of international aid programmes.

Mandatory settling would change Hungary fundamentally

The Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office told the press in justification of the referendum initiated with respect to the quotas that the mandatory settling regime would change Hungary fundamentally, and would affect the lives of every Hungarian. Therefore, everyone must be given the right before the end of this year to decide for themselves. In his view, this is an issue of sovereignty.

Mr Lázár is of the opinion that the left-wing parties which wish to challenge the referendum before the Curia want to change the ethnic makeup of the country. There is a sharp contradiction here as the Government takes the view that there is no need for taking people in, he pointed out.

The Minister said: the Visegrád Four are convinced that a second line of defence is required in the Balkans at Macedonia due to the illegal migration. He added that it is Austria now that represents the Central-European positions most vehemently and most charismatically.

Hungary sees the observance of the laws of the EU and the protection of its borders as its duty, he stressed, pointing out: the management of the migration crisis has cost Hungary HUF 80 billion so far, of which the EU has reimbursed HUF 3 billion.

He further told the press that three thousand migrants arrived at the southern border in January and February this year in total, and some 150 of them claimed to be Syrian.

Mr Lázár mentioned the reinforcement of the Serbian and Croatian border fences with physical equipment and personnel and the preparations for the construction of the fence at the Romanian border as key items on the agenda of next week’s cabinet meeting. The migrants who are becoming increasingly impatient and aggressive „want to trample on” the European laws, he said in evaluation, adding: various units of the military have already joined the protection of the border.

Mr Lázár also mentioned among the topics of the next cabinet meeting the closure of reception centres, including the facility in Nagyfa, and the maintenance of the state of crisis introduced on the southern border section, and pointed out that it may have to be extended to the Romanian border section as well. „I believe that the state of crisis is only just beginning”, he stated, indicating: the analysts of the Ministry of Interior evaluate the migration situation on a daily basis. This is not a literary question, but a question of national security, he said, pointing out: they are keeping track of when the direction of migration is diverted from Serbia to Romania and starts putting pressure on the Hungarian border; however, at present “this is well within manageable limits”.

In answer to the question as to why their proposed amendment to the Constitution regarding the threat of terrorism has not yet been presented to Parliament, the Minister said: the reason is that the five-party consultations have not yielded a result.

With reference to a question raised earlier, the Minister also informed the press than 50,000 to 100,000 people have left Transcarpathia due to the crisis in Ukraine. Many of them are in Hungary on a short- or longer-term basis, and given that they have dual citizenship, they are not required to apply for asylum. He highlighted: people with a Hungarian identity are not comparable with those who are coming to Europe from North-Africa in the hope of a better life. If due to issues of internal security Ukrainians were to leave Ukraine, “it would be our duty to help” as we did at the time of the Yugoslav Wars, he added.

Government is ready to take part in resolution of NBH debate

While it is not the duty of the Government to adopt a position on the debate regarding the status of the National Bank of Hungary, if necessary, it is ready to take part in the resolution of the problem via Justice Minister László Trócsányi, Mr Lázár said.

Parliament restricted access to the data of the business associations and foundations owned by the National Bank of Hungary in an extraordinary procedure on Tuesday.

Mr Lázár said: the Government respects any legislation that Parliament may pass with respect to the operation of the central bank. In his view, however, this issue is not yet over, and the Government therefore offers its assistance with the resolution of the situation. At the same time, due to the constitutional regime that exists in the country, there is no scope for the issuance of a governmental position, he added.

The Cabinet believes that the NBH should be governed by similar statutory regulations to those which apply to the central banks of the countries which do not use the euro, the Minister said.

„Whatever is not private money is public money”, Mr Lázár said as a comment on the disputes regarding the issue of public funds, but indicated at the same time that the rules applicable to public funds can be different. In the interest of the financial security of the country, there is scope for limiting access to information on the utilisation of public money, Mr Lázár stated.

He reiterated that also upon the passage of the postal legislation, they found the right solution in the wake of the concerns voiced by Attila Péterfalvi, President of the data protection authority.

Regarding the works of art purchased by the National Bank of Hungary, Mr Lázár said: we need the central bank’s financial resources in the protection of our national heritage.

There is consensus in Brussels regarding Paks project

Mr Lázár further informed the press that the Hungarian Government had come to an agreement with Brussels regarding the publicity of the Paks project, and the Paks 2 project legislation will be presented to Parliament shortly. According to his information, negotiations have also accelerated in recent weeks with respect to the issue of prohibited state aid and the trade policy right to award contracts.

He also told members of the press that 46 per cent of the calls for proposals of the EU funding made available between 2014 and 2020 had already been published, and all calls for proposals will be invited by 1 July 2017. Up to Wednesday calls worth HUF 4,151 billion were published, with 167 calls in total.

The Minister was of the opinion that there is even greater interest in the new land auctions launched on 1 March than in the first round, as part of which 140,000 hectares of land may be sold in total to farmers. 10,000 hectares of land were sold on the first day to the value of HUF 13 billion, he informed the press, indicating: the terms and conditions are unchanged.

The Minister informed the press that the Government will assist Hungarian dairy producers with grants worth HUF 10 billion, which means that grants will be increased to the maximum permitted rate.

The head of the Prime Minister’s Office also covered issues of public education, highlighting that State Secretary for Education László Palkovics will table a proposal after Easter regarding the changes to be made to the operation of the Klebelsberg Institution Maintenance Centre. Mr Lázár made clear, however: the Government takes the view that the principle of divided responsibility between the State and local governments has failed. He also said that no decision has been made yet where the decision-making levels will be, but he indicated nonetheless that there will be changes under any circumstances in the decision-making powers of the principals of schools, the responsibility of counties and districts, and central management.

In answer to a question regarding the planned teachers’ strike, the Minister said: the Government respects all lawful forms of the expression of opinion.

He further reported that, as part of the review of the 73 state and government agencies, central offices and support institutions planned with a view to the reduction of bureaucracy, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán made decisions on Wednesday in connection with the institutions of the Ministry of National Economy and the Ministry of Human Capacities.

Mr Lázár was also asked about the incident which evolved upon the submission last week of the referendum initiative concerning the closure of shops on Sunday. He, too, described what happened as undignified, reiterating that the Government invited the National Election Commission to make proposals regarding the alteration of the relevant procedural rules.

In answer to a question, the Minister denied press reports claiming that Minister of Human Capacities Zoltán Balog and Minister of Agriculture might lose their seats within the Government. Prime Minister Orbán will evaluate the contributions of the members of his Cabinet in 2018, he said.

He was further asked whether the contemplated amendment of the law on state finances will make way for the establishment of allocations in decrees. In answer to this question, the politician said: this is not what the proposal is about. It is about how the Government may use any residual funds which may accumulate monthly.

The Minister was further queried about whether the Government had been given an answer yet by the European Commission regarding the EU engagement of the company connected with Ferenc Gyurcsány. He said: the Commission has not yet given an answer. However, the Polish Government has already announced that they do not wish to cooperate with Altus, given that they regard the engagement as an instance of party financing.

Mr Lázár was additionally asked whether any of the creators of the film Son of Saul will be given a state award on the occasion of 15 March. Mr Lázár replied that the Government has no right to nominate, but „those who have such powers desire to do so”, given that the Government sees the Academy Award as a major national success.