Orbán’s cabinet weekly press briefing about Ukraine education crisis, migration quotas and other topics
Anyone who endangers Hungarian interests will find themselves up against the Hungarian state, government office chief János Lázár said at his weekly press briefing on Thursday, in connection with the new Ukrainian education law and Romanian policy affecting a school for ethnic Hungarians in Targu Mures (Marosvásárhely).
Lázár said the “coarse violation of Hungarian minority rights” was “unacceptable and shameful”. He called on the Ukrainian president not to sign the law, adding that the law was “a stab in the back”.
“Ukraine will lose a friend,” he said.
The government office chief also said Hungary would withhold its support for Romania’s membership of the OECD unless it sought a satisfactory conclusion to the issue of the Hungarian school in Targu Mures.
Hungary has also expressed its objection to Croatia’s OECD membership,
saying that the country has “harmed Hungarian economic interests”, citing the dispute between the two countries over Croatian oil and gas company INA and Hungarian peer MOL.
Meanwhile, on the subject of pensions paid to high-ranking dignitaries of the Communist regime, Lázár said the government was ready to examine the issue and conduct an investigation omitted in 1990.
Asked about remarks critical of the government by former ombudsman László Majtényi, who heads a prominent NGO, Lázár said NGOs are free to express their opinions, and he added that public life in Hungary was blooming without any hindrance.
Majtényi has accused the government and ruling parties of conducting a smear campaign against NGOs with the intention of intimidating them.
It is easy to blame the opposition parties’ failures on the government in election season, Lázár said. “But the opposition looks in the mirror, sees something appalling and smashes the mirror instead of taking a shave”, he said.
Challenged that opposition referendum bids “seem to go awry all the time”, Lázár said that the opposite was true.
Of opposition initiatives, many reached their goals, he said. Budapest is not hosting the Olympics, the shops are open on Sundays, and parliament has just raised the statute of limitations on corruption charges, just as the opposition proposed, he said. “They should be glad to be able to assert themselves, even in opposition,” he said.
Lázár dismissed a report about plans that the government would take over southern Hungarian city Pécs’s debts in exchange for ownership of the airport Pécs-Pogány,
which then would let to Russian energy giant Rosatom. No property swaps were discussed at the meeting, he said.
In connection with his personal plans, Lázár said that if it depended on him alone then he would work in his constituency between 2018 and 2022 and that he achieve more there than in government. He said, however, he was not without long-term ambitions. “Where there’s a job to do there are ambitions, but it is hard to sit on two horses at once.”
Speaking of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s itinerary in the near future, Lázár said Orbán is travelling to Poland on Friday and then to Vietnam and Singapore. Lázár said there will be no government meeting next week.