Weekly government press briefing about Austrian chancellor’s visit, new migrant redistribution programme, Budapest metro upgrade
Budapest, July 26 (MTI) – Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern will pay a visit to Budapest on July 26 upon invitation of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the government office chief announced on Thursday. János Lázár called a new migrant redistribution programme proposed by EU commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos “especially dangerous” for Hungary, arguing that the scheme affects the country’s sovereignty and would encourage further migration into Europe. The government has launched a questionnaire on simplifying public administration services and reducing administrative fees, he said. The European Commission has recommended that Budapest should take out a loan to finance the upgrade of the city’s third metro line, saying this would be a profitable way to fund the project, Lázár said.
Austrian chancellor to visit Hungary on July 26
The aim of the visit is to begin “a new chapter” in Hungarian-Austrian relations, János Lázár told a regular weekly news conference.
Migration will be one of the topics covered at the meeting and the two countries will also use the visit to strengthen their economic ties, Lázár said.
He added that he would travel to Vienna on Monday to make official arrangements for the chancellor’s visit.
EC’s new migrant resettlement proposal ‘dangerous’
Under the programme put forward by Avramopoulos on Wednesday, Hungary would be obliged to integrate migrants that are resettled in the country to which the EU would contribute 10,000 euros for every migrant accepted, Lázár said at his regular weekly press conference.
Lázár called the proposal “outrageous” and said it was worse than the mandatory quota scheme. He said member states that refuse to participate in the scheme would likely face penalties.
The government office chief said the EC and the leftist groups of the European Parliament were “working together” on the migrant relocation scheme which he said made Hungary’s planned October 2 referendum on mandatory migrant quotas all the more important.
Responding to a question Lázár said it was “inconceivable” that the EC would ignore the result of Hungary’s referendum.
Regarding his personal opinion about the EU, he suggested that the powers of the European Council should be strengthened over those of the commission.
Lázár rejected reports by human rights organisations accusing Hungarian authorities of being violent towards migrants at the border as “lies and slander”. He said authorities handled migrants in a professional manner.
Human Rights Watch said in a report published on Wednesday that Hungary’s authorities “summarily force” migrants back to Serbia at the southern border, “in some cases with cruel and violent treatment”, without considering their claims for protection.
Lázár said 450-500 illegal entrants have been apprehended and escorted back to the border so far since Hungary’s new border rules came into effect last week. He said police make video recordings of all of their procedures.
Lázár voiced disagreement with a recent proposal by national business association MGYOSZ to bring in foreign workers from outside of the EU to ease labour shortages in certain sectors. He said the government’s goal is to bring down unemployment among Hungarians. Once the economy achieves full employment, the government can offer work to Hungarians living beyond the border, he added.
Regarding the leadership change in the UK, Lazar said the Hungarian government expects that its ties with Theresa May’s government will be just close as they were with David Cameron’s cabinet.
Government to launch questionnaire on simplifying public administration services
Citizens have until August 19 to tell the government what sort of administrative procedures they think need to be made simpler and which service fees should be reduced or scrapped, Lázár said.
The aim of the campaign is to further reduce red tape in public administration.
EC recommends loan to finance Budapest metro upgrade
Lázár was asked at his regular weekly press briefing to comment on a recent report by the daily Népszabadság which said the capital would be forced to take out a 139 billion forint (EUR 442.7m) loan because Brussels had suggested that it would not provide financial support for the project.
Lázár said Budapest could take out an EBRD loan if the EC chooses not to finance the project, adding that the state is willing to provide the capital a guarantee on the loan.