The Hungarian Government agrees with the findings of the document floated by President of the European Council Donald Tusk which have since sparked a fierce debate, János Lázár, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office said at the press conference Governmentinfo 106 which he held jointly with Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács.

The Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office said it is important that someone stated for the first time after two years that the mandatory refugee quotas are highly divisive and ineffective, and are as such unsuitable for handling the migration crisis.

It is possible to conclude that one half of the Member States want mandatory quotas, while the other half are against them, and the Commission’s proposals have not come up to expectations, he said.

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He was critical of the fact that the European Commission “attacked” Donald Tusk’s statement by far exceeding its competence, and individuals spoke up who are quite evidently unable to manage the crisis.

The Minister also highlighted that it adds weight to the Hungarian Government’s position that they represent the views of 2.349 million electors who stated their opinion regarding George Soros’s six-point plan in the national consultation.

He confirmed that each of the Member States of the Visegrád Four will make a contribution of EUR 9 million to the protection of the borders by the Italians in Libya, and this EUR 36 million in total is genuine help with controlling immigration back at the shores of North Africa. Hungary will cover its share from the government reserves and excess revenues.

He further said: the statement made by Martin Schulz, the President of the German social democrats whereby he wants a new European Constitution is utterly shocking. The German politician “envisages” a new European federal state which everyone would be required to join by 2025, and those who would fail to do so would be left out. “Hungary was last served an ultimatum such as the one Martin Schulz delivered a few days ago by Adolf Hitler”, he stated.

He also observed that at the Thursday-Friday meeting of the European Council the parties will discuss defence cooperation in which Hungary wishes to play an active role as it is evident that defence cooperation will have to be enhanced in Europe after Brexit.

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It is no business of the EU to pass judgement on US decision

Mr Lázár stated: the Government takes the view that the United States has the right to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and it is no business of the European Union to pass judgement on the decision of the President of the United States. It should instead shape a view of its own on the matter.

The Hungarian Government will not change its view regarding the Middle East even after the US decision: it seeks to maintain balanced relations with every party, the Minister said.

Regarding the recent Gothenburg EU summit which focused on social issues, he said: Hungary regards all social issues, including education and culture, as issues that fall within member state competence.

In the context of the hearing of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, he said: Hungary was subjected to a “witch-hunt”. The hearing was “a left-wing initiative beneath all decent standards”, an attempt on the part of European left-liberal groups to brand Hungary.

EC accepted Hungarian arguments regarding dominant position of multinational corporations

The Minister further informed the press that the European Commission accepted the Hungarian arguments regarding the dominant position of multinational corporations. He said that the Brussels decision adopted in the wake of the pilot procedure that was instituted on the basis of a report filed by multinational corporations concerns businesses with a net sales revenue of more than HUF 100 billion selling ordinary consumer goods. They are in a dominant position as a matter of course, and the legal rules related to the ban can be enforced.

He added that the Hungarian Competition Authority will have to apply the relevant regulations, and the measure will help to protect consumers and Hungary’s national interests.

Mr Lázár also said: those who dismissed this case, together with “lex Heineken”, as a losing battle believed that there was a chance of less than 1 per cent of “pushing this matter through” the European Commission. Yet, we are now celebrating “a bright Hungarian victory”. “I sincerely hope that I finally managed to convince sceptics and those who are permanently scared of the European Commission that it is worth fighting for Hungarian interests”, he remarked.

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State will provide compensation for those wronged in Czeglédy case

The State will pay the students wronged in the Czeglédy case and will then enforce its own claim against Csaba Czeglédy and “his criminal organisation”, Mr Lázár said.

The politician described the case as unprecedented because Csaba Czeglédy, who is now in provisional detention, is Ferenc Gyurcsány's lawyer and a joint municipal councillor for MSZP, DK and Együtt, whose „criminal organisation” took advantage of the naivety of those working in the school cooperative system, and by doing so is suspected of having committed fraud in the magnitude of some HUF 3 billion.

Government to encourage installation of solar parks

Mr Lázár also informed members of the press that the Government will ease regulations regarding the use of land in order to encourage agricultural interests to create solar parks. He said that the government decision concerns small power stations with an output of 0.5 megawatt installed in areas of 1 hectare, and the State will receive the electricity generated by these facilities on a mandatory basis. It will be possible to take out preferential loans for the purpose from the Hungarian Development Bank, and they are encouraging network owners to create as many connection points as possible.

The Minister said in justification of this measure that Hungary will seek to minimise its import needs in the next 10 to 20 years; the goal is for the Paks Nuclear Power Plant to cover one half of the country’s electricity needs, while photovoltaic power stations should cater for the other half. In a best-case scenario several thousand solar parks could be installed in the next few years, he remarked, also saying that in the case of 1,300 of the 2,600 licences issued to date the deadline for installation or the designation of the site will expire on 31 December. The Government does not wish to extend this deadline, and will decide on the fate of these licences by the end of February.

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The Minister updated members of the press on the urban planning legislation currently lying before Parliament which merges three laws and, as he said, will “tidy up the mess” of local and national regulations. He said: the purpose of the reform is to ease construction regulations and to reduce bureaucracy, and he referred to the free digital base map as an important innovation. In the context of the provisions relating to Lake Balaton, he said it is important that everyone should have access to the lake shore, and that it should not be possible to build residential estates instead of camp sites. Regarding rules that concern Budapest, he said: it will not be possible to build high-rise buildings taller than 65 metres.

Among the decisions adopted by the Government, he mentioned that they had approved the refurbishment of some one dozen tourist accommodation facilities, and the Government would agree with the district of Csepel on a ten-year development plan.

He indicated that the two cabinets discussed 128 agenda items, as part of which they designated the sites for 16 new shooting ranges, and decided to transfer ownership of the former BÁV headquarters acquired on the basis of a pre-emptive right to the Reformed Church. They also decided on preparations for the refurbishment of the building of the Ministry of Agriculture and the planning of the reconstruction works of the University of Veterinary Medicine.

Regarding press reports that Microsoft Hungary has terminated the licences for the sale of Microsoft products of the biggest suppliers of the Government, Mr Lázár said: so far they have had settled and normal relations with Microsoft supplying software products and licences to the Government which is, however, not in contact with the US IT giant, but with resellers selected by the parent company.

The Government has nothing to do with Microsoft’s business policy decisions, and neither has it anything to do with disputes that the company may have with a Hungarian executive formerly in its employ, he stated. The Prime Minister’s Office only employs individuals who conform to the statutory conditions, he added with reference to the fact that Viktor Sagyibó, former head of Microsoft Hungary’s sales of government services now serves as ministerial commissioner for the Prime Minister’s Office. There are ongoing talks; it is certain, however, that not a single licence or software product will be revoked as of 1 January, he explained.

Regarding disability access on metro line 3, the Minister said: this is fundamentally a Budapest issue, but the Government is ready to engage in talks about it with both the Metropolitan Municipality and the NGOs concerned.

In answer to a question concerning the audit conducted by the State Audit Office at Jobbik, the politician said: the Government exerted no pressure of any kind on the State Audit Office in the case. The Government will not even comment on the case with regard to the fact that the utilisation of funds by a parliamentary party is not an issue that the Government should concern itself with.

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Mr Lázár said in response to the question of whether he liked the photo posted by Member of Parliament for Fidesz János Pócs on Facebook provoking heated debates which depicts a torched pig with the inscription “HE WAS NEXT [a play on words ‘next’ meaning ‘Soros’]: he would not have liked it on Facebook because he does not like it, and because it is not worthy of a Member of Parliament for Fidesz.

The head of the Prime Minister’s Office said in answer to a question regarding the end-of-year excess expenditure requirements of Ministers: the ‘till’ is not closed yet, it will be closed next week, and in terms of magnitude “we are talking about 30 to 50 billion forints”. He also said that the deficit may be even less than indicated in the budget law.

Mr Lázár was also asked about the possible procurement of a government aircraft. He said in reply: the Defence Minister has been tasked with restoring troop carrier capabilities as the 30- to 40-year-old aircraft will have to be withdrawn from use next year. The refurbishment of combat helicopters that are capable of transporting troops and have firing capabilities is already under way, he added, indicating: there is a valid government decision regarding these. At the same time, in his view, Hungary is the only country in the EU at this point in time which does not have a government aircraft of its own. He took the view that airline tickets and rental arrangements cost more, in actual fact, than the building of a normal governmental carrier fleet would.

In answer to a question concerning the possible ratification of the Istanbul Convention, he said: it is not featured in the Government’s 2018 legislative plan, and before the elections in general the Government would not like to table any new proposals before Parliament.