The government will ask the EU and the United Nations for clarification concerning “the rather unclear circumstances” surrounding debit cards issued to migrants, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office said at a weekly government press briefing on Thursday.
Gergely Gulyás called it “unacceptable” that migrants should be granted debit cards without personal identification and said it posed risks in terms of fighting terrorism, people smuggling or money laundering.
He welcomed the European Parliament’s recent rejection of introducing a European “humanitarian visa system”.
Concerning former Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s recent request for asylum in Hungary, Gulyas said it was “a legal rather than an inter-governmental matter”. He said that the Hungarian state had not provided Gruevski any help with leaving Macedonia. The former prime minister had filed a declaration of intent to apply for refugee status at a Hungarian diplomatic mission outside Macedonia, Gulyas said. He said that a decision was then made for safety reasons that Gruevski should be interviewed in Budapest rather than in the transit zone, and added that it was “general practice with former political leaders”.
“Gruevski has not met Prime Minister Viktor Orbán,” Gulyás said.
Answering a question, he said Hungarian authorities would follow the relevant “security protocol” and ensure that Gruevski could not leave Hungary. Read more news about Gruevski case.
In answer to a question related to Brexit, the Minister said Hungary would have been better pleased if Britain had opted to remain a member of the EU, but British electors adopted a decision to the contrary, and a country cannot be penalised due to a democratic decision. We need a fair Brexit, in the long run the EU and Britain will have to build the most advantageous possible relations, and Hungary therefore welcomes the increased chance of an agreement, he stated.
He took the view that while an extraordinary EU summit will be held next Sunday to address this issue, the approval of EU heads of state and government is not enough in itself. The agreement is also subject to the approval of the British Parliament, and in this regard he has major doubts. Even if no agreement is reached, the rights of the Hungarians already working there will not be curtailed in any way, he said.
The Minister said that a net contributor member is leaving the EU, and Britain’s contribution accounted for 12 to 13 per cent of the EU budget. According to Hungary, during the next seven-year financial framework either every Member State will proportionately increase their contributions, and as a result, the grand total of the budget will not decrease, or they will accept a 12 to 13 per cent fall in the budget and EU grants will be reduced accordingly, he explained.
Verhofstadt’s billboard campaign
In answer to a question, Mr Gulyás said regarding MEP Guy Verhofstadt’s billboard campaign that the European liberals are working “with a broad repertoire of political folklore”. This is about George Soros’s revenge, and the European liberals have joined this campaign, he said.
The Minister said in answer to an enquiry concerning the EP decision on the state of the rule of law in Romania that “after what happened in Hungary’s case”, the EP is no longer an authentic forum to pass judgement on issues of this nature.
He also said that they will send the results of the consultations on the future of Europe to French President Emmanuel Macron.
He said in answer to a question that the government has filed its action with the European Court of Justice against the Sargentini report.
Budapest, Metro line 3
The government will support the refurbishment of metro line three with EUR 247m (HUF 80 billion), the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office announced.
Mr Gulyás said the additional funds can be used at the end of 2019, in 2020 and in 2021, but the utilisation of funds could even extend to 2022. The metropolitan municipality is preparing the plans for the refurbishment of the metro line, and implementation, too, will fall within the municipality’s competence, he added. Read more news about Metro line 3 upgrade.
The Minister said that at the Wednesday cabinet meeting, which was also attended by Mayor of Budapest István Tarlós, they were in favour of the establishment of a metropolitan public development council, and the agreement thereon will be signed by István Tarlós and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Saturday.
The metropolitan public development council will deal with all issues concerning Budapest, and government decisions concerning Budapest will also be referred to the council, thereby ensuring permanent communication between the capital and the government at the highest level, Mr Gulyás highlighted.
The Minister informed the press that
in the third quarter Hungary’s economic growth reached 5 per cent, and as a result, it is third in Europe behind Poland and Ireland, Gulyás said.
Mr Gulyás also said that the Hungarian economy rests on stable foundations, and it is to be presumed that also in the whole of the year it will be capable of the highest economic growth rate among Member States of the European Union. At the same time, an economic growth rate above 4 per cent appears to be realistic for next year as well.
The deficit of the budget, too, is low, and in consequence it will be possible to adhere to this year’s deficit target of 2.4 per cent, he added.
He said the construction industry played the greatest role in the growth with an increase above 25 per cent, and internal consumption has also increased which justifies the pay rises of recent years as an appropriate measure.
The Hungarian economy rests on stable foundations, and an economic growth rate above 4 per cent appears to be realistic for next year, the Minister said.
He further highlighted that during the years of left-liberal governance the deficit of the budget reached almost 10 per cent; this clearly indicates the advantages of a conservative financial policy.
In answer to a question, Mr Gulyás said that at the Wednesday cabinet meeting the government discussed several proposals related to health care, and there will be further proposals in the near future.
A government decision is expected to be adopted before the end of the year which will comprehensively address the difficulties that exist in health care and the developments of the next few years. As a result, a decision may also be adopted about the priority central hospitals so that the relevant developments can start.
Regarding the new National Curriculum, the Minister said there is no official decision yet, and as things stand today, it is likely to be introduced in September 2020.
He said in the context of the enlargement of the Paks nuclear power station that it is to be hoped that the final deadline for the completion of the project can be observed. The Hungarian party will do everything it can to prevent delays.