In the past two years the organisations supported by George Soros have done everything in their power in Budapest, Brussels and Berlin in order to change Hungary’s position related to migration, and to turn Hungary into a pro-immigration country, János Lázár, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office said at the press conference Governmentinfo 105 which he held jointly with Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács.

The Government is resisting, however:

Hungary cannot be turned into a pro-immigrant country, there is no compromise on this,

the Minister stated, who informed the press that the Government had debated the report of the minister responsible for home affairs and intelligence on the “Soros files”, details of which had recently been released in the Western European press. At the same time, the majority of the report constitutes classified information, he remarked, but highlighted: the report was required because the protection of the Hungarian state borders and guaranteeing sovereignty are issues of national security.

Mr Lázár said: it is not the Government that attacked the Soros organisations, but in actual fact it is these organisations that seek to change the position of Hungarian decision-makers. The Government did not concern itself with George Soros’s activities until he stated his view on migration and starting making attempts to influence Hungarian public opinion which “constitutes an entirely different order of things”, he added.

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The Minister also said that they are facing new EU initiatives in connection with migration daily, and positions “have not converged an inch”.

It is important that the Hungarian Government should take part in the debate and state its view, and to this end it needs to hear what members of the electorate want, he stressed, stating: 3 million people stated their opinions in the referendum, while in the national consultation related to the Soros plan 2.2 million people have voiced their views so far. At the same time, Central European public opinion polls likewise indicate that 75 to 85 per cent of the people are opposed to the mandatory distribution scheme.

He further reiterated: Fidesz initiated the placement on the agenda of the decision of the European Parliament on the mandatory quotas in the Hungarian Parliament in order to reach a national consensus.

Hungary to face a fine of HUF 60 to 70 billion due to doings of the left

Hungary is to face an EU fine of some HUF 60 to 70 billion due to irregularities related to the construction of metro line 4 that may be associated with MSZP and SZDSZ, Mr Lázár announced.

The Government concluded that the irregularities are irrefutable, but is making attempts to reduce the amount of the fine by way of negotiations, he said. Mr Lázár also said: they asked Minister of National Economy Mihály Varga to allocate funds in the 2018 budget for covering the sum of the potential fine, subject to the stipulation that this withdrawal of funds cannot affect health care, social services or education.

He informed the press: in the metro project amounting to HUF 452 billion in total there may be cases of corruption involving the former socialist-free democrat government worth some HUF 272 billion, and HUF 166 billion of this sum was most probably simply embezzled. HUF 76 billion of the latter amount was funded by the EU, while the rest was the contribution of Hungarian taxpayers, he said.

He reiterated that there are two ongoing criminal procedures in the case: one of them based on the report filed by the Prime Minister’s Office with reference to the report of OLAF, while the other one has been under way since 2011 in response to an international enquiry. Regarding the latter he said: the criminal activities related to the construction of metro line 4 appear to form part of a series of international left-wing crimes, and the prosecution services ordered investigations in France, Britain and other EU countries as well.

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Mr Lázár further reported that Brussels had just begun the disbursement of EU funds worth HUF 201 billion. This is a major result, he said in evaluation, adding: the opposition “was hoping against hope” that if they are unable to cite convincing arguments against Fidesz, the European Commission may yet caution the governing party. These funds have a genuine and positive impact on the sovereign debt, he indicated.

In the context of the parliamentary debate on EU funds due to take place next Monday he said: the Public Procurement Authority and the State conducted 8,650 public procurement procedures last year to a total value of some HUF 2 thousand billion which represents 5 per cent of GDP. On average six bids were received per public procurement which indicates an increase, and the percentage of single-bid public procurement procedures too has decreased significantly, he detailed. He added: in 99.2 per cent of the 8,650 public procurements there was competition in the procedures.

Consumption also continuously rising due to pay rises

The Minister also rendered an account of the state of the economy. As he said, employment stands at nearly 69 per cent for the first time since 1990, meaning that those who are able and willing to work find job opportunities. Simultaneously with this achievement, the percentage of people involved in public works schemes is continuously decreasing, unemployment is 4 per cent on average in the country, and real wages have been on the rise for 57 consecutive months. He added: the social contribution tax will decrease by another half a per cent on 1 January 2018, saving HUF 200 billion for Hungarian businesses.

The Minister said: consumption is also continuously rising due to the pay rises implemented, and the economy is functioning well now not only thanks to governmental subsidies. Investments worth HUF 4,144 billion were implemented in Hungary in the first three quarters of the year which represents a 22.6 per cent increase compared with last year, he stated, pointing out: this also means that the appetite of Hungarian small and medium-sized businesses for investments has increased significantly, while Hungary’s capacity to attract capital from outside has likewise improved considerably.

Mr Lázár was further asked about the pay rise demands of several sectors. In the case of municipal workers he made mention of the elimination of the pay differences that exist between different settlements, indicating: he sees no scope for this during this term. He further highlighted: the development of a standard pay scale for health visitors is only possible if the individuals concerned are transferred from municipalities to a state service.

He also pointed out that they had decided on pay rises already at the time of the passage of the 2018 budget: the pay rises laid down in the Budget Act entering into force in January 2018 will be implemented. Only the performance of the economy may give rise to changes, he said.

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The State to buy the “Whale”

The Minister announced at the press conference: the Government decided to buy the building of the “Whale” from the Metropolitan Municipality for the Hungarian Tourism Agency which will use it for tourism purposes.

Informing the press about several decisions of the Cabinet, the Minister further reported that they had approved the comprehensive development of the Győr Xantus János Zoo, had endorsed Szeged’s public transport development concept, had consented to the commencement of the building of the new Szekszárd swimming complex, and had also decided on the implementation of a road refurbishment programme worth HUF 100 billion in 2017-2018.

Mr Lázár also mentioned the government decision based on which the rule that buildings erected within the framework of state projects must comply with the landscape design regulations of settlements will be incorporated into a decree. He further said: upon the conclusion of the changes to be made to construction regulations, the Government will wish to incorporate these provisions into a law and will create a digital map that will be accessible to all.

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In answer to a question relating to the technical details of the refurbishment of Castle Garden Bazaar, he said that the “technical suitability” of the project must be reviewed. He himself takes the view that the defects that have surfaced are far too numerous, but also remarked that damp is fundamentally responsible for most of them.

Budapest-Belgrade railway line to be upgraded

Regarding the China-Central and Eastern Europe summit held in Budapest at the beginning of the week, Mr Lázár said that Hungary looks upon the Central and Eastern European countries awaiting accession to the European Union as an opportunity, a chance and a reserve from the viewpoint of the future of the EU. He said: the goal is for Hungary to become the gateway to the EU for the Western Balkans.

He spoke about the upgrading of the Budapest-Belgrade railway line to be implemented with Chinese funding which, as he pointed out, will allow trains to travel at a speed of up to 160 to 180 kilometres per hour.

Similar to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Mr Lázár also thanked the residents of Budapest for their patience in the context of the transport and traffic disruptions caused by the summit. The summit just concluded was among the 5 biggest Budapest events of the past 27 years, he remarked.

In answer to a question concerning the autonomy of Tibet, he said: at the Budapest summit they did not conduct talks of a political nature with the Chinese leadership. He also added: Hungary does not normally interfere with the lives of other countries.

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Mr Lázár informed the press, in the context of the decisions adopted by the Government, that they would provide free vaccines for children in Transcarpathia, had approved the requests for funding of several hospitals in the provinces, and an observatory would be built in the Bükk Mountains. They further approved the proposal that Hungary should host a short course swimming world cup between 2018 and 2021.

He was asked regarding the fact that, according to Member of the European Parliament Benedek Jávor, a political decision was made when the EU approved the Paks 2 project. The Minister said: it is sad that the MEP for the political party Párbeszéd has given up his political career and has chosen instead “the vocation of filing reports”. In his view Paks 2 “is a major misjudgement” in Benedek Jávor’s life whom he feels sorry for on account of the fact that he is “fighting ghosts”. He said: the European Commission concluded that every law had been fully observed in the case, they demonstrated a 7 to 8 per cent recovery rate in safeguarding the interests of Hungarian taxpayers, and the agreement was declared transparent in Brussels. In answer to another related question, he further reported: the technical preparations related to the construction site will begin in the first half of 2018, and most of the actual construction works will take place between 2018 and 2022.

The Minister said in response to a question related to the conference of Norway Grants closing the period between 2009-2014: the Prime Minister’s Office recognised the efforts of all the parties taking part in the operation of the programme, and it would not have been elegant had Veronika Móra, head of Ökotárs Alapítvány [Hungarian Environmental Partnership Foundation] not been given a “badge of some kind”.

In answer to a question regarding the fact that an online gaming company won a lawsuit against the Hungarian State, the Minister said: he is not familiar with the court judgement. He pointed out, however, that it is the duty of the State to block illegal gaming, and the rules relating to gaming must be observed by everyone.

Mr Lázár said in response to an interview with former Polish President Lech Walesa which also contains criticism of the Hungarian Government: the most important part of the interview is the one in which Mr Walesa talks about the future of the European Union as, in his view, it is well worth considering the suggestion which projects vivid differences between the western and eastern halves of the EU.

In answer to another question Mr Lázár said: he maintains his statement made with respect to Curia Judge András Baka, President of the former Supreme Court, who passed judgement on cases concerning the corporation tax in the context of sponsoring spectator sports. According to his former statement András Baka is biased against the Government to a degree – on account of having sued the State previously – that he is unable to judge any affairs related to the Government in an objective manner. Therefore, in the Minister’s view, it would have been the judge’s ethical duty to report a conflict of interest in connection with cases involving the Government. Regarding the judgement passed with respect to corporation tax donations, he remarked: in his opinion, “this is nothing more than a storm in a teacup”, no information of any kind will be revealed that will surprise the public.