Alexandra Béni | Sep 25, 2018 | 1
Hungarian government: US ambassador needed – Weekly press briefing
The government has managed to carry out its farmland sales scheme dubbed Land to Farmers in a way that the Constitutional Court has declared lawful and constitutional, government office chief János Lázár said on Thursday. US-Hungary ties would be greatly helped if America appointed an ambassador to Hungary, he said.
Speaking at his weekly press briefing, Lázár said US charge d’affaires David Kostelancik’s recent remarks concerning press freedom in Hungary were “a lot of nonsense”.
“More US diplomats who speak Hungarian are needed,” Lázár said,
insisting that “if they spoke our language they would see that hundreds of articles criticising the government are published daily.” He added it was “far from the case2 that criticism of the government was missing from the Hungarian press.
Soros has ensured financing for his plan
US billionaire George Soros has guaranteed the conditions for financing his plan to import migrants into Europe, having donated a large portion of his wealth to his foundations, Lázár said on Thursday.
“This money will be put to work everywhere in the whole of Europe, and it will support those civil communities and parties that want to open up Europe’s borders and that want to organise immigration.”
He said central European countries were being weighed down by huge pressures due to immigration, referring to the European Parliament Committee on Home Affairs, Citizenship and Justice’s (LIBE) decision to approve a draft text on modifying the Dublin Regulation. The reforms are aimed at speeding up asylum procedures and ensuring a more equal distribution of the burden of migration among member states. Lazar said the decision would open up the possibility for a permanent mechanism for distributing migrants.
Time for CEU to ‘make up its mind’
It is time for Budapest’s Central European University (CEU) to “make up its mind about what it wants done” in connection with Hungary’s higher education law,
the government office chief said.
Lázár said the CEU had “spent the whole summer” asking for the deadline for foreign universities to comply with the higher education law to be extended, but when parliament extended it “we are once again seeing political protests”.
“This isn’t fair,” Lázár said.
Lawmakers amended Hungary’s higher education law to extend the deadline for foreign universities and colleges operating in the country to meet the law’s criteria to January 1, 2019.
The government expects everyone to meet the law’s criteria within the allotted time, Lázár said.
Hungary tightened rules governing the operations of foreign universities in the country in the spring, requiring foreign colleges and universities in Hungary to operate on the basis of an interstate agreement and to run a campus in the country in which they are based.
The CEU has said that the latest amendment would prolong the state of uncertainty over its future and urged the government to sign an agreement with the State of New York to guarantee its future in Hungary.
Farmland sales scheme constitutional
Lázár noted that the scheme involved the sale of 200,000 hectares of farmland to 30,000 farmers and generated 270 billion forints (EUR 875.6m) in budget revenue.
The top court’s ruling has made it clear that all contracts in connection with the scheme were signed lawfully.
He said the court had also ruled that regulations must be set down on how revenues from the farmland sales could be spent. In addition, the court also declared the sale of land classified as “Natura2000” legal, but specified that the protection of their wildlife must continue to be upheld.
Benedek R Sallai of green opposition LMP and 51 opposition lawmakers had turned to the top court because they believed the government had introduced dubious measures retroactively in order to legalise the sale of state-owned land. The court on Tuesday said that some rules governing National Land Fund assets breach Hungary’s fundamental law. Whereas it rejected LMP’s concerns, it found that the law failed to specify the portion of the Fund’s lands that could be sold to reduce the public debt. This opened up the risk that the government could substantially reduce the Fund’s assets, ultimately jeopardising its operation, the ruling said.
EC’s position removes all barriers to Paks upgrade
The European Commission has released its written position stating that Hungary’s Paks upgrade project meets all preconditions, Lázár told his weekly press conference, adding that “all barriers [to the investment] have now been removed”.
According to the commission’s position,
the construction of two new reactor blocks will be a profitable enterprise,
which “finally puts an end to the dispute” about whether the project is needed or not, Lázár said. “Those who were doubtful concerning the rationale of the project now have the commission’s response,” Lázár said. The commission says that the project meets all legal, technical and business requirements, he added.