Hungary Ditches EU Debate Over Migration

The Hungarian government will not participate in next week’s European Parliamentary debate concerning observance of the rule of law in Hungary, Gergely Gulyas, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office, told a press conference on Thursday, arguing there was no basis for discussion.

The debate is set for Jan. 30 in Brussels on recent developments concerning the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary.

The rule of law issue is just a “pretext for sanctioning Hungary because it was the first country to state clearly its refusal to take in migrants, Gulyas said.

The mandate of the current European Parliament will expire in May, Gulyas noted, adding that the government is seeking an “anti-migration majority” to replace “the current, pro-migration majority” in the upcoming EP elections.

Gulyas said EP had exceeded its powers and was seeking “new ways to support migration”. European institutions should remain “within the scope of the treaties, he said. Plans to tie EU funding to the observance of the rule of law, he added, was “blackmail.

He said US financier George Soros had met European Commission leaders 21 times in the current cycle, and insisted that “it is an illegitimate attempt” to influence it. The commission’s policies reflect Soros’s intent, he added.

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Commenting on remarks by US political advisor George Birnbaum concerning the government’s Soros campaign, Gulyas said that neither the government nor ruling Fidesz had contracted Birnbaum and he had not provided any advisory services.

Answering another question concerning reports that Prime Minister Viktor Orban would visit Belarus in February, Gulyas dismissed them, saying:

“Such a visit is not in the prime minister’s diplomatic calendar."

Regarding Budapest’s Honved hospital, Gulyas said that “99 percent” of the employees had no objections to recently introduced changes to their work contracts, and those who had signed the modified documents would be granted a 35 percent pay rise. He added that operations of the hospital’s neonatal unit, whose head recently quit his job, were uninterrupted. Concerning hospitals in general, he said that “some hospitals have no debt while others regularly get indebted”. He said the problem may not be to do with central financing but rather may be a management one.

Concerning the Hungarian government support for hospitals abroad, Gulyas said “a few hundred million forints” given to Syria as humanitarian aid is “expected from a member of the international community."

Gulyas spoke about the strike that started at Audi Hungaria in Gyor, in western Hungary, on Thursday morning, and said that the government would like to see an agreement between employees and company management, but it cannot intervene directly. “The current wage dispute is a consequence of competition,” he said, adding that “there is no danger of a general strike.

Gulyas said several issues concerning Budapest had been discussed at the latest cabinet meeting. The government supports the preparation of plans to extend the third metro line to Kaposztasmegyer and will provide the necessary resources, he said.

Concerning the revamp of the Buda castle, he said the aim was to restore buildings destroyed in the second world war and during the communist era, including the former foreign ministry building. However, the ministry is not planning to move there, he added.

Commenting on consultations about family protection, he said a cabinet meeting on Feb. 6 will finalize a detailed action plan which will be presented by Prime Minister Viktor Orban in his state of the nation address on Feb. 10. The family support system will be greatly expanded in 2019, he added.

Referring to the recent death of film-mogul Andrew Vajna, Gulyas said that Vajna would be buried in Budapest’s Fiumei Street Cemetery, adding that the government would make arrangements for the funeral.

Gulyas also confirmed reports that the government will fully finance the renovation of the a student halls for Karoli Gaspar Reformed University in Budapest, the upper stories of which burned down on Wednesday night.

You can read this article as it originally appears at Hungary Journal here.

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(PHOTO: Attila Kisbenedek / Contributor / Getty)

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