Orbán’s cabinet: Brussels openly ‘applying double standards’
Budapest, April 20 (MTI) – The European Union is openly applying double standards in its dealings with Hungary, government office chief János Lázár told a weekly press briefing on Thursday.
While praising Austria for controlling European citizens crossing its borders and curbing their right to free movement, the EU wants to punish Hungary for “trying to control illegal migrants at its borders, thus reducing the threat of terrorism”.
Lázár rejected commentary in the international press comparing the Hungarian facilities to Nazi death camps in transit zones set up along the Hungary-Serbia border. He insisted that Hungary’s authorities were “doing everything” to create decent circumstances for migrants in these zones. He called it “astonishing” that “this same international community cheered” when container cities were set up to accommodate migrants in Calais.
“If there are containers in Hungary, that is a bad thing, but if there are containers in France, that is a good thing; if there are border checks in Hungary, again that is bad, but having border checks at Hungary’s borders with Austria is praiseworthy,” Lázár said.
On the topic of illegal migration, Lázár said Hungary’s chances were “mixed” and the European Commission, “with the European Court’s assistance”, may force Hungary to accept its scheme. In this case, Hungary would either have to accept migrants without the Hungarian people’s consent or the country would have to pay a heavy fine, he said.
Lázár announced that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán would take part at the extraordinary session of the European Council called for April 29 to discuss Brexit. He will also attend a meeting of the European People’s Party. Further consultations about whether Orbán will also pay a visit to the European Parliament will be held on Monday, he added.
Responding to a question about the recent ruling by the Strasbourg court in connection with the case of two Bangladeshi asylum seekers who were detained and deported in 2015, Lazar said the Hungarian government would appeal the court’s decision. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ordered Hungary to pay the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, which represented the two asylum seekers, 2.7 million forints (EUR 8,700) in legal fees. Lázár said the money would be paid to the NGO which enjoyed the “intensive support” of US financier George Soros and which sought out “clients” among migrants on the border with the aim of launching lawsuits against Hungary, Lázár said, adding that it “appeared to be a model that works”.
Lázár was also asked to respond to a proposal made by the head of the Hungarian National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (NAIH) in connection with the government’s recent bill on disclosing foreign funding of NGOs.
NAIH head Attila Péterfalvi said the legislation should be broadened to include organisations and political groups supported by business lobbyists from entities both within Hungary and abroad.
Lázár said the operation of organisations supported either by the government or a party is monitored by the State Audit Office and its reports can be accessed by the public. Lazar said he strongly disagreed with Peterfalvi’s proposal on including religious organisations in the legislation.
On the topic of the Central European University, Lázár said the government had no intention of closing any university, but the relationship between the CEU and the Közép Európai Egyetem as two separate entities must be clarified.
The government office chief was also asked about Brussels calling on Hungary to reimburse 18 billion forints (EUR 58m) over irregularities surrounding contracts on IT systems installed for the distribution of EU funds. Lázár said Brussels was right and the Hungarian government would have to file a criminal report. He noted, however, that the issue concerns agreements concluded between 2004 and 2006, under the previous government, with ‘an active involvement” of the wife of former Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, as well as a member of the Altus holding company. The IT system stopped operating in 2014, said Lázár.
Lázár also rejected claims by European Socialists and stated Hungary’s commitment to the EU. He called the European People’s Party the ruling Fidesz party’s “most important political ally”.