Weekly government press briefing – Hungary to remain Britain’s strategic ally
Budapest, June 30 (MTI) – Hungary aims to remain a strategic ally of Britain, a “strong western power”, government office chief János Lázár told a regular press briefing in Budapest on Thursday.
He announced that the government would set up a working group to handle the consequences of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
Hungary has a vested interest in maintaining economic and political cooperation with Britain, and will take steps to help the success of negotiations about the terms of Britain’s exit and the new conditions of future cooperation, he said.
Lázár stressed the need to protect the rights and interests of the hundreds of thousands of Hungarians working in Britain. He called for strengthening the Visegrad Four cooperation in a way that the interests of Hungarians in Britain be represented more effectively.
The government office chief said Hungary’s national referendum to be held in the autumn on the EU’s mandatory quota plan cannot be regarded as a vote against the European Union. Rather, it will provide an excellent example for consulting the public on a matter of key importance, he said.
If Hungarians are not asked about migration, one cannot “credibly represent” the position that it is a fundamental right of each country to decide who can stay on its territory, he said.
Lázár said that migration had contributed to the British Leave vote. It may undermine the European Union if its members are not allowed to freely decide whether or not they want immigration, he added.
Lázár voiced sharp criticism of financier George Soros, whom he said “directly interfered” and would promote massive immigration through “anti-Hungarian proposals” and cutting EU funds to the country. Under Soros’s proposals a tax should be levied on Hungarian people to support immigrants in Europe, Lázár insisted. He added that those proposals, if implemented, would cost Europe 30 billion euros.
He said he has convened five-party talks over the EU’s planned free trade agreement with Canada.
He called it a “rather surprising turn” that European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker would require approval of CETA solely on a European level.
Hungary’s parliament approved a decree stating that it wants a vote on the matter on a national level, Lázár noted, adding that he seeks reinforcement of this position by the country’s parliamentary parties.
On another subject, Lázár said that the government considers the Liget Project, a scheme to build a museum complex in Budapest’s City Park, a “closed issue”. The government has considered all arguments for and against the plan and will go ahead with it to complete the project by 2018-19, he said.
Lázár voiced incomprehension over protests against the project and suggested that the movement to thwart the scheme was politically motivated. He insisted that the park’s “green surface” will increase once the new complex is built. He added that the consruction site will be fenced off, but protests outside the area will not be obstructed.
Change in the government
Lázár also announced that he would withdraw cultural state secretary László L Simon from his post because he was “not satisfied” with L Simon’s performance.
To a question about reports that Flórián Farkas, the prime minister’s commissioner for Roma integration, had failed to turn up at a hearing by the European anti-fraud authority (OLAF), Lázár said he did not know why Farkas had stayed away but urged him to answer the call.