Hungarian government: EU infringement procedures ‘could decide country’s fate’
European Union infringement procedures against Hungary, such as those concerning migration policy and land sales, could “determine [the country’s] fate over the next few decades”, János Lázár, the government office chief, said on Thursday.
At the same time, Hungary has “some two dozen” such disputes with the European Commission, he said, a “normal number”. Out of the 28 EU member states, twelve currently contended with more infringement procedures than Hungary, he told the last of his weekly press conferences before the summer break.
The most crucial three or four procedures concern migration, Lázár said, insisting that “while the EU seeks to organise migration and open the gates, Hungary maintains that borders must be closed and immigration stopped”.
Lázár said he saw a fair chance that the EC may secure support for its plans to set up a European immigration agency, which would involve “stripping members of the right to determine who lives on their territory”. He added that the idea was proposed by US billionaire George Soros.
Responding to another question on the government’s billboard campaign depicting Soros, Lázár confirmed the government’s earlier position that “no compromises will be made that worsen the country’s security” and no concessions made “with regard to anyone’s background”. “Having half a million migrants at the borders is a security issue,” he said, adding that “Jewish communities that raise concerns about the Soros [billboard] campaign should be aware of that.” He added the government respects the position of Hungary’s Jewish communities but also takes into consideration the Israeli foreign ministry’s opinion.
Israel’s foreign ministry has issued a statement that Soros was a legitimate target for criticism.
Lázár noted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to visit Budapest next week, and denied allegations that the billboards with Soros’s image would be withdrawn accordingly. The relevant outdoor advertising space has been reserved until July 15, he said.
Asked about the possibility of withdrawing Soros’s Hungarian honors, Lázár said the government would not take a position on whether Soros’s honorary citizenship of Budapest should be withdrawn. He cautioned, however, that this would not be a good move. He added no proposal had been made to withdraw Soros’s Order of Merit of Hungary and neither would he support such a move.
The government does not plan to turn to the Constitutional Court in connection with the Kúria’s (supreme court) decision concerning the wage cap for the chief executives of state-run companies. Only good managers should be entrusted with state assets, and unless they are paid properly, they will turn to the private sphere, he said, adding that the government had taken into account the suggestions of the state auditor, namely that the CEOs should be paid in line with the performance of the economy. An economic upturn is now under way and the companies are also performing well, he said.
In connection with a signature campaign in support of making Christmas Eve a non-working day, Lázár said the government does not propose extending the number of holidays, but one possible option was to gauge public opinion nevertheless.
On the topic of the Socialist Party’s proposal to hold an extraordinary session of parliament on the higher education law, he said there was no point while related negotiations were still under way.