Hungary has never before hosted a sports event on a scale such as the World Aquatics Championships beginning on Friday, János Lázár, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office said at the press conference Governmentinfo 95 which he held jointly with Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács.

Mr Lázár reiterated at his Thursday press conference held in Budapest that Hungary is hosting the World Championships as a last-minute “stand-in” in the wake of the withdrawal of the original host Mexico. With this, Hungary will break a record under any circumstances, he remarked.

The Minister said that the country has prepared for the sports event with the construction of new facilities and the refurbishment of a number of old ones. Some HUF 85 billion has been spent on the construction of the new facilities and the subsidisation of Hungarian aquatic sports, he added.

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In his view, Hungarian aquatic sports have not received infrastructure projects on such a scale in recent years.

Mr Lázár asked everyone to demonstrate a degree of generosity, to root for the successful completion of the event and to help athletes to take part in the championships successfully. He told the press that almost 100 Hungarian athletes are entering the championships, and for the first time in the history of the World Aquatics Championships, Hungarian swimmers will be present in every discipline.

Reacquisition of Seuso treasures is an enormous opportunity for science as well

The Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office described the reacquisition of the other seven pieces of the Seuso treasures as an enormous opportunity also from the viewpoint of science, and indicated: together with the British Museum, a thorough research project on an unprecedented scale may begin with a view to exploring the Pannon region.

Mr Lázár said that the reacquisition of the national treasure of 14 items removed from Hungary was preceded by seven years of hard work. It is a great achievement of Hungarian museology that the treasures may have returned to Hungary after a long hiatus and an adventurous story, he added, thanking László Baán, Director General of the Museum of Fine Arts for his work.

According to his information, the Nagy and Trócsányi Law Firm took part in the project, and the costs related to the return of the treasures to Hungary were financed by the Hungarian State Treasury. The country paid EUR 43.5 million in total for regaining possession of its property worth EUR 100 million, the Minister said.

He remarked: the “treasure hunt” will not stop there as many believe that the most significant find from the Roman era is much more extensive, and further items may emerge. The Government will investigate every report, he said.

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The Minister was also asked about the lawsuit related to the fact that the painting Calvary by Mihály Munkácsi was declared protected. He said in reply: the court does not dispute the painting’s protected status, but is required to settle a legal dispute ongoing for some 30 years in order to clarify as to whether at the time when the painting first entered Hungary there was an obligation to return it to the United States. After this, there will be no obstacle to declaring the painting a protected work of art, he said, adding: this issue does not concern Imre Pákh’s title.

The art collector does not intend to take the painting away from the country, but he has an idea about the price, and the parties have not yet reached an agreement, Mr Lázár remarked.

He was further asked about the internal investigation conducted at the Castle Stewardship, in answer to which he said that the process had been closed, and information regarding the findings will be released next week as expected.

Twenty-point action plan for quality foodstuffs

The Government has approved a twenty-point action plan with respect to the quality of Hungarian foodstuffs, Mr Lázár announced. According to the information of the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office, these measures will be about how to supply the people with foodstuffs of high quality and how to protect them from being sold products of poor quality by multinational companies.

The Government will launch an information, awareness and monitoring campaign in order to achieve a genuine improvement in the quality of foodstuffs, the Minister informed the press.

He found the popularisation of Hungarian foodstuffs important, highlighting that the percentage of Hungarian products has increased from 30 to almost 60 per cent in retail in the past seven years.

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He further told the press that the Government held 17 meetings in the first half of 2017, and debated 130 proposals, the most on 3 May. The two cabinets of the Government, the strategic and the economic cabinets had 32 meetings in total, and debated 612 proposals, he detailed.

Kisfaludy programme to be extended

The regions of the Danube Bend, Debrecen and Hortobágy, too, may be eligible for funds from the Kisfaludy tourism development programme to be implemented between 2019 and 2030, Mr Lázár announced.

He reiterated that the recently announced programme worth three hundred billion forints has so far extended to Lake Balaton, Lake Fertő and the Tokaj wine region. The three other regions will now join these, he said.

He told the press that tourism accounts for 15 to 20 per cent of Hungary’s GDP, and therefore the revenues derived from this sector are very important for the country. He also reiterated that a new structure has been developed in the area of tourism this year: they set up a national tourism agency.

He pointed out that by virtue of the statutory changes, they are planning to facilitate pleasure cruising in Hungary, while in the future it will be the responsibility of infrastructure providers to finance any infrastructure replacement works related to the construction of bicycle paths.

He further reported that as a result of the amendment of the rules relating to sports medicine, general practitioners, too, will be allowed to issue sports health suitability certificates. He added: the Government has consented to the borrowing of the cities of Szekszárd and Salgótarján for infrastructure development purposes.

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Mr Lázár said: the Government is planning to implement a health care development programme worth HUF 700 billion in Budapest, and Budapest hospitals will have the possibility to implement instrument and equipment procurements worth HUF 20 billion this year.

The Minister said in response to a question that the state of the young girl transported with an open ribcage from the cardiological institute to the Heim Pál Paediatric Hospital for a CT scan was stable both before and after the examination. The child had been ill for a long time, and the physicians did everything they could to save her life, he said.

Mr Lázár pointed out: ever since 2010 they have been working on improving the health care situation for every individual living in the country. They have spent hundreds of billions of forints to date, he continued, then added: “this is how far we have got, this is how much we have managed to achieve”.

Immigration must be stopped

He further spoke about the fact that the Hungarian Government has some two dozen disputes with the EU, the European Commission. This is a normal number; as regards the number of cases, Hungary is in the middle rankings among the Member States, it is ranked thirteenth out of the 28 Member States, he said. In his view, these are cases which will determine the fate of the country for several decades to come, such as immigration and the issue of arable land.

He described immigration as the most important issue, in the context of which he said that the EU would like to organise immigration and wants to open the gates. By contrast, Hungary says: the borders must be sealed and immigration must be stopped. This is an issue, on account of which 3 to 4 infringement procedures have been instituted against Hungary, he added.

In answer to a question, he said that the Government will answer all the questions in connection with the procedures; however, as regards the issue of the CEU, positions have not converged “an inch”. It transpires from the arguments of the European Commission that they are on György Soros’s side, but he has yet to see a weighty argument, he remarked. As regards the NGO legislation, the procedure is as yet „in phase zero”, and the body has questions, the Minister said.

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In answer to a question, he said he believes that the European Commission may well be able to push through the plans relating to an immigration agency, by virtue of which they would take away the powers of the Member States to determine who may live in their territories. In his view, this is György Soros’s proposal.

The Minister confirmed the Government’s position in answer to several questions concerning the Government’s hoardings depicting György Soros: they will not make any compromise on the issue of the security of the country, and they have no consideration for anyone’s origin. The fact that half a million immigrants come to the border of a country is a security issue on which Hungary will not make any compromise whatsoever, he stated. The Jewish communities which voiced concerns over the campaign related to György Soros, too, must accept this, he laid down. He added: they respect the position of Jewish communities in Hungary and accept the opinion of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

He said: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will come to Hungary next week for a several-day state visit. He denied allegations that they are removing the hoardings depicting György Soros on account of the Israeli Prime Minister’s visit. The campaign was ordered until 15 July, he remarked.

Me Lázár was further queried about the possible revocation of the titles and decorations awarded to György Soros. Concerning the title Honorary Citizen of Budapest, he said: the Government does not wish to take a position on this issue, but in his view it would not be right. As regards the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, he told the press: he is not aware of any such initiative, and would not back the withdrawal of the decoration.

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Good experts must be remunerated well

In answer to a question, the Minister told the press: the Government is not planning to turn to the Constitutional Court in response to the decision of the Curia concerning the ceiling on the pay of the executives of state-owned companies. As he said, it is only possible to entrust a job and the assets of the State to a good expert if the remuneration is also right, or in a case to the contrary, they will seek to find employment on the market. Upon determining the pay scale, the Government took account of the recommendations of the State Audit Office, he remarked, adding: as long as the country’s economic results did not permit a pay rise, there was a need for a moratorium. Now, however, the figures of the economy have improved, and the companies themselves are more successful.

Mr Lázár was also asked about the collection of signatures which seeks to have 24 December declared a bank holiday. He said in reply: they have two positions. On the one hand, they will wait to see how the people decide, and on the other hand, the Government will not propose a further increase in the number of bank holidays.

Due to the ongoing consultations, the Minister took the view that it is not justified to hold an extraordinary parliamentary session on the higher education legislation at the initiative of the socialists.

In answer to a question, he said regarding the principal of the Makó secondary school: he has headed the institution for 22 years, and its standards are today lower than they used to be. He added: he believes it is right that the State is looking for a new principal in the interest of the improvement of standards. In response to reports suggesting that there may be political influence behind the change of principals, he said: Fidesz has governed the country for seven years, and all this time the principal who is now departing has led the institution.