Talks are ongoing between Hungary and Norway on the distribution of funds to Hungarian civil groups from the Norwegian government under its Norway Grants scheme, but it is uncertain if an agreement will be reached, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office said on Wednesday. The new leaders of the European Union’s institutions should be “granted trust in advance”, he said.
Gergely Gulyás said in response to a question that
negotiations between the two countries had been made more difficult by the Norwegian government’s “insistence on supporting the civil organisations of [US billionaire] George Soros”.
Hungary, however, intends to spend the entirety of the grant on schemes aimed at improving the integration of the Roma community, he said.
In response to a question, Gulyás said he had no knowledge of the US president having been asked to mediate in the talks between the two countries.
Family protection action plan
On the topic of the government’s family protection action plan, Gulyás said the scheme’s implementation was going smoothly. Gulyás noted that the first four of the plan’s seven measures entered into effect on Monday.
The measures are attracting a lot of interest, Gulyás said, adding that
the government expects the number of applications for the various support schemes to reach record levels by the end of the month.
Constitutional amendment proposal
Gulyás was also asked about reports by news portal Index saying that the ruling parties were planning to draft a constitutional amendment proposal that would include a ban on adoption by same-sex couples if Budapest Mayor István Tarlós won re-election in the autumn. Gulyás commented on the reports by saying that “Index has gotten started on the election campaign as a member of [Parbeszed candidate] Gergely Karácsony’s team.” The PM’s Office chief said it was “completely absurd” to try to link the planned constitutional amendment with the municipal elections. He said there were no plans to change the rules around adoption, which currently allow adoption by heterosexual couples only.
Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA)
On another subject, Gulyás said he did not think the move to relocate research institutions of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) to a new body with its own, independent budget chapter violated any European Union laws. He added that he did not expect the EU to launch an infringement procedure against Hungary over the amendment.
Gulyás voices support for new EU leaders
Gergely Gulyás said the Hungarian government and ruling Fidesz had different positions on several issues than some of the candidates, but “the head of the European Commission should act as guardian of the treaties despite those differences”. It is important that “our goals of stopping migration, protecting Christian culture and ensuring respect for a Europe of nations should not be the targets of attacks”, Gulyás said.
Gulyás insisted that the “cooperation and unity of the Visegrad countries has proved to be solid”. He added that
the V4 cooperation was the strongest such initiative within the EU. “Belonging to one region overrides the V4 prime ministers’ different [European] party affiliations,” he added.
Gulyás also said that neither Frans Timmermans nor Manfred Weber had the ability to promote consensus between member states. “In light of recent developments the spitzenkandidat-system has failed,” Gulyás said. He added that Hungary’s voters had supported Fidesz in the European Parliament “not because Weber was the spitzenkandidat of the European People’s Party but rather in spite of it”. He insisted that Weber had “insulted Hungarian voters” when he said he did not wish to be European Commission president if it was up to Fidesz’s support. As for Timmermans, Gulyás said that the focus of his activities was to “attack Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic” and “make the crudest, insinuating remarks on democratically elected leaders”.
Gulyás said he saw a good chance that Ursula von der Leyen, as commission head, would “mediate fairly between member states” and perform well in the role of guardian of the treaties.
“We don’t have a problem if somebody else has different views on migration, unless they want to force their position on us,” Gulyás said. “We just expect tolerance.”