A meeting of parliament’s security committee, convened by the opposition to look into corruption charges against former justice state secretary Pál Völner, lacked a quorum on Tuesday, with representatives of the ruling parties staying away.
The agenda for the meeting would have also included a discussion of leaked footage involving government commissioner Attila Sztojka.
Committee chairman János Stummer of Jobbik, Socialist member Zsolt Molnár and LMP member Péter Ungár told a joint press conference that they were “unsurprised” by the absence of the ruling parties.
The three opposition politicians vowed to restore the committee’s controls and review the body’s practice of classifying information and of licencing intelligence activities if they won the next election in April. They also pledged to hike the salaries of national security personnel.
Molnár said the opposition wanted to ask questions about the Russia-Ukraine conflict, too, but “the same thing happened as during the 2014 and 2018 campaigns: the ruling parties are being secretive and boycotting meetings.”
Concerning the footage involving Sztojka, Ungar said that the case raised the question of whether the interior ministry’s practice of collecting information was legitimate and “the information is being used for party political purposes”. He added that the earlier Pegasus spy software scandal had raised “the same suspicion”.
The national security committee has in recent years “lost its actual oversight” such as over the secret services, due to “persistent actions of sabotage” by the ruling parties,
Stummer said. He vowed to restore those controls if they won the next election in April. He also called for an institutional reform of counter-terrorism force TEK, including amendments to the law that governs its operations.
Molnár said the practice of classifying information had become “uninhibited”, and broadening the range of information classified as confidential was unjustified. He pledged to review that practice and reconsider the classification of earlier purchases and other cases.
Referring to the Pegasus case, Molnar said that licencing secret data collection was governed by ill-defined legislation, which offered opportunities for abuse, adding that the opposition would review those rules.
Ungár said that
it was a priority to ensure salaries for the secret services “that are competitive; in the region at least”.
He also said that his party would again propose publication of the files of informers in Hungary’s communist past, adding that once those documents were public “a politician could no longer be blackmailed on the grounds that he had reported on another person”.