Briefing: Government not to attend EP debate on Hungary’s rule of law
The Hungarian government will not participate in next week’s European Parliamentary debate on the rule of law in Hungary, Gergely Gulyás, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office, told a regular press conference on Thursday, and argued that there is no reason for the discussion.
The debate is set for January 30 in Brussels on recent developments concerning the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary.
Observance of the rule of law is just a “pretext” to allow “the sanctioning of Hungary because it was the first country to state clearly its rejection to take in migrants”, Gulyás said.
The mandate of the current European Parliament will expire in May, Gulyás said, and called the incumbent body “an outgoing range”.
Gulyás said EP had exceeded its powers and was seeking “new ways to support migration”. European institutions should remain “within the scope of the treaties”, he said. Plans to tie EU funding to the observance of the rule of law, he added, was “blackmail”.
He said US financier George Soros had met European Commission leaders 21 times in the current cycle, and insisted that “it is an illegitimate attempt” to influence it. The commission’s policies reflect Soros’s intent, he added.
Commenting on remarks by US political advisor George Birnbaum concerning the government’s Soros campaign, Gulyás said that neither the government nor ruling Fidesz had contracted Birnbaum and he had not provided any advisory services.
Answering another question concerning reports that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán would visit Belarus in February, Gulyás dismissed them, saying: “Such a visit is not in the prime minister’s diplomatic calendar”.
Concerning domestic affairs, Gulyás said that recent cooperation between conservative Jobbik and the leftist parties reflects “attempts by the Left to make racism and anti-Semitism presentable”.
Regarding Budapest’s Honvéd hospital, Gulyás said that “99 percent” of the employees had no objections to recently introduced changes to their work contracts, and those who had signed the modified documents would be granted a 35 percent pay rise.
He added that operations of the hospital’s neonatal unit, whose head recently quit his job, were uninterrupted. Concerning hospitals in general, he said that “some hospitals have no debt while others regularly get indebted”. He said the problem may not be to do with central financing but rather may be a management one.
Concerning the Hungarian government support for hospitals abroad, Gulyás said “a few hundred million forints” given to Syria as humanitarian aid is “expected from a member of the international community”.
Gulyás spoke about the strike that started at Audi Hungaria in Győr, in western Hungary, on Thursday morning, and said that the government would like to see an agreement between employees and company management, but it cannot intervene directly.
“The current wage dispute is a consequence of competition,” he said, adding that “there is no danger of a general strike”.
Gulyás said several issues concerning Budapest had been discussed at the latest cabinet meeting. The government supports the preparation of plans to extend the third metro line to Káposztásmegyer and will provide the necessary resources, he said.
Concerning the revamp of the Buda castle, he said the aim was to restore buildings destroyed in the second world war and during the communist era, including the former foreign ministry building. However, the ministry is not planning to move there, he added.
Commenting on consultations about family protection, he said a cabinet meeting on Feb. 6 will finalise a detailed action plan which will be presented by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in his state of the nation address on Feb. 10. The family support system will be greatly expanded in 2019, he added.
Referring to the recent death of film-mogul Andy Vajna, Gulyás said that Vajna would be buried in Budapest’s Fiumei Street Cemetery, and added that the government would make arrangements for the funeral.
Gulyás also confirmed reports that the government would fully finance the renovation of the Ráday College in Budapest, a student hostel for the Károli Gáspár Reformed University, the upper stories of which were consumed by fire on Wednesday night.
Featured image: MTI