Budapest, November 26 (MTI) – Hungary’s counter-terrorism force TEK is supposed to focus due attention to any extraordinary development, and did “nothing objectionable” when it apprehended six people last weekend, government office chief Janos Lazar told a press conference on Thursday. Lazar has asked central bank governor Gyorgy Matolcsy to raise the cap on a credit line made available for the purchase of state land. The European Commission has “essentially attacked Hungary” when it started infringement procedures about “every case that was on its table”, he said. The Hungarian government believes that illegal migration and terrorism are inseparable and go “hand in hand”, Lazar said.
Concerning the arrests, made under suspicion of terrorist activities, Lazar said that under such circumstances TEK must guarantee security and “it would be a grave mistake if politicians or journalists made decisions rather than experts.”
The suspects arrested could have meant a security risk for Hungary, which is underlined by information from Budapest’s chief prosecutor, Lazar said.
Earlier on Thursday, Tibor Ibolya, the chief prosecutor, said that some of the suspects apprehended and found to possess automatic weapons, explosives and ammunition, had criminal records.
Tibor Ibolya said the two people apprehended on Friday who had automatic weapons in their vehicle had been arrested before for illegal possession of firearms. One of the two men was arrested in May this year for attempting to smuggle ammunition into the country, while the other one was released from prison last November after serving seven and a half years for the unlawful use of a weapon.
The four people who were apprehended travelling in a car towards Budapest on Saturday were found in possession of second world war grenades, “egg grenades”, ammunition and other explosives.
Of the two Slovak and two Hungarian nationals, the prosecutor only intended to place one in pre-trial detention because TEK had found even more ammunition, grenades, chemicals and fuses in his home and concealed in his clothing. The Budapest Regional Court, however, rejected the prosecutor’s motion to detain the suspect. The prosecutor said it has additional information on the suspect that would warrant his pre-trial detention, but refused to elaborate, citing the ongoing investigation. The prosecutor said it has appealed the court’s decision to release the suspect.
The Budapest Regional Court told MTI that there is no evidence to suggest that the suspect has any connection to criminal or terrorist organisations, nor is there any evidence to suggest that the case can be linked to any other ongoing investigation. The court said there was no information to indicate that any of the suspects held extremist views or had connections abroad. The suspect whom the court wanted to detain did not have a criminal record.
The leftist opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) party said it would file a complaint against TEK saying that it deliberately misled the public by implying that it had apprehended Islamic extremists. Lawmaker Agnes Vadai said that Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s “private army had failed” and that TEK chief Janos Hajdu had embarrassed Hungarian police officers.
Lazar: EC attacks Hungary with infringement procedures
Lazar said while he trusted that this was not an “act of revenge” coming from those who had “failed in immigration policy and in stopping immigration”, it was difficult not to see it that way.
The Paks nuclear plant “is well and going forward, thank you very much,” he said, adding that consultations are ongoing with the committee and Hungary is ready for a compromise. It is vital to maintain the nuclear plant’s capacity level and to keep the plant in state ownership from the point of view of ensuring affordable power for consumers.
Answering a question, Lazar said the EU cannot make Hungary drop its utility cuts programme through an infringement procedure initiated in the wake of complaints by energy providers, but “there are chances that the state should provide compensation to cover their losses”. That, however, cannot impact consumers, he added.
To another question, Lazar said Russia stopping gas supplies to Ukraine did not affect transit shipments and Hungary had a safe supply.
Lazar: land purchase credit cap should be raised
Lazar told his regular weekly press conference on Thursday that the 150 billion forint credit line should be doubled. So far requests to take out 125 billion forints worth of loans have been filed by farmers, he said. Fully 18,000 hectares of the 25,000 hectares of state land offered for sale has been auctioned off so far, he added.
On the subject of the horse farm in Mezohegyes, the government regrets that “the opposition had misled and blackmailed the workers there”. He added that the government wants to avoid conflict with the local council of Mezohegyes and will offer jobs to all 400 workers when the farm is reopened. Lazar promised that he would visit the mayor of Mezohegyes who has expressed concern for a possible loss of tax revenues. The government will examine ways to offer compensation, he added.
The government has decided to re-establish the stud farm in Mezohegyes and operate it as a model farm by transferring 3,500-4,000 hectares of farmland to it, Lazar said earlier.
He told Thursday’s briefing that the Socialists have “opted to support an eight thousand hectare large farm.”
The government supports ruling Fidesz lawmaker and agriculture chamber chairman Balazs Gyorffy’s proposal to enable landowners review the land lease five years after signing a contract and later at regular intervals, Lazar said.
Lazar: illegal migration, terrorism ‘go hand in hand’
The threat of terrorism is growing in Europe, Lazar told his regular weekly press conference. Hungary will take the position to the EU-Turkey summit in Brussels on Sunday that it is ready to cooperate intensively in protecting Europe “in this war situation”, Lazar said. Prime Minister Viktor Orban will attend Sunday’s summit, he said. He added that French prime minister Manuel Valls’s statement that Europe must stop the influx of people from the Middle East can be a “breakthrough”.
The waves of illegal migration must be handled outside Europe, the government office chief said, adding that the Hungarian government opposes plans under which another one million people would be “invited” into Europe. There are warning signs that illegal migrants cannot be integrated into EU member states, he said. Hungary does not want immigrants and would instead remedy labour-market problems with Hungarians beyond the border. “Hungary had been struggling with the integration of its Roma population for 600 years. How could we possibly integrate anyone who is not from among us?”
Hungary protests a system of distributing migrants based on quotas and dissents with Germany which is a proponent. Hungary has collected 900,000 signatures on a petition to state its protest, he said.
Hungary proposes to solidify external borders, enhance security, reorganise the Schengen and dublin systems, strenghten competences at national member state level and pursue a “fair” relationship with Russia, which could help in this situation, Lazar said.
Lazar added that Hungary’s border fence is working “exceptionally well”; there are fewer than 20 people who have tried to cross. He said the military and police were ready to take further measures depending on what other countries are doing. If Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia close their borders there is a danger that migrants will come to the Hungarian-Romanian border and in this case the government is ready to erect a fence there, too, he added.
Asked about two planned reception centres in Maronfa and Sormas, Lazar said these would not be built after all.
In another question regarding German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Lazar said it was in Hungary’s interest that the CDU should be governing in Germany. He added that the chancellor was Hungary’s “great supporter” and that there is no benefit to seeing the chancellor or her party lose political clout. At the same time Lazar said the German political elite and the opinion of the people seem to be drifting apart.