Five-party meeting on anti-terrorism measures ‘constructive’ – UPDATE
Budapest, April 1 (MTI) – Representatives of Hungary’s five parliamentary parties met on Friday to discuss the government’s planned anti-terrorism measures.
After the meeting, ruling Fidesz deputy chairman Gergely Gulyás told reporters that the talks were constructive. He said that despite some points of conflict, participants saw eye-to-eye on the main objectives.
Gulyás added he saw a good chance that the government’s package of measures would receive opposition support.
Government spokesman Zoltán Kovács said more talks are scheduled to take place with representatives of the parliamentary parties. He said there were no substantial differences of opinion and the outlines of an agreement were within reach.
Lawmakers present at the meeting had approached the matter professionally and had reacted responsibly to Interior Minister Sándor Pintér’s proposals, interior ministry state secretary Károly Kontrát said.
Concerning the regulations on eavesdropping, he said the aim was to ensure that nobody should be able to bypass the law with the aid of new technical possibilities.
Kontrát also said an important element of the talks concerned questions around the new Counter Terrorism and Crime Information Analysis Centre. Plans are for the centre employing 130 people to collate and analyse secret services information to come on line on July 1.
The opposition Socialist Party said the meeting was productive. Lawmaker Tamás Harangozó, who is the deputy head of parliament’s defence committee, told reporters after the meeting that several points in the interior ministry’s proposal were “hair-raising” but several of these were eventually withdrawn. The ministry also agreed to consider an earlier proposal put forward by the Socialists on criminalising terrorist propaganda along with a similar amendment proposal by LMP. Harangozó said that if the ministry stays true to its word and the parties are successful in reaching a consensus on the disputed points of the bill then “there is a good chance” that the Socialist Party will back the proposal.
The Jobbik party also called the talks productive. MP Ádám Mirkoczki told reporters that negotiations between the parties and the government looked promising as the ministry agreed to amend or clarify disputed points of the bill. He added at the same time that he was unsure of how much of the opposition’s proposals would be included in the government’s final proposal. He said there was a good chance Jobbik would support the bill if the government removes the passages on defence procurements and the restriction of mass gatherings.
Green opposition LMP said the talks were to-the-point and covered every detail of the anti-terror bill. Party co-leader András Schiffer told a press conference after the meeting that Pintér took a constructive approach to the talks and agreed to consider several of the opposition’s proposals, including ones put forward by LMP. Schiffer said his party’s main concerns about the bill had to do with the government’s proposal to criminalise the encryption of telecommunications devices. He also criticised the passage dealing with defence procurements, but added that there was a good chance that LMP, too, would support the bill if it is removed.