Belgrade, February 19 (MTI) – A Serbian court on Friday heard a misdemeanour case launched against a lawmaker of Jobbik party for opening an office in Senta (Zenta) in Vojvodina (Vajdaság).
Serbia’s ministry of public administration and local government initiated the hearing to determine whether István Szávay’s opening of his Senta office is considered political activity by a foreign party. Under Serbian law, it is illegal for foreign parties to conduct political activities in Serbia. The ministry said Szavay’s case is considered political activity because the office features Jobbik’s name and logo.
Szávay told MTI’s journalist after the hearing that he considers the entire case “nonsense”, adding that he personally was never charged with conducting political activities. The only thing Serbian authorities objected to, Szávay said, was Jobbik’s logo on the outside of the office.
“I think political activity would involve some form of participation in the country’s public affairs, running for or holding public office,” Szávay said, emphasising that Jobbik is not pursuing such activities.
He said he had both legal and moral grounds for opening his office in Senta, citing a 2012 Hungarian law which allows for Hungarian parties to open offices both within and beyond the country’s borders as well as the constitution, which states that Hungary is responsible for taking care of its citizens living abroad.
Szávay said the presence of his office in Serbia does not hurt the interest of the country or its people. The lawmaker expressed hope that he will be exonerated by the court.
Szávay opened his office in Senta last October after the authorities twice banned the operation of Jobbik’s office in Subotica (Szabadka). He said at the opening that he wanted to help locals in procedures to acquire Hungarian citizenship and help them solve problems they face.
Last November Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó called Szávay’s act of opening the office a “provocation” damaging Hungarian-Serbian relations.