“The Hungarian Government is thinking in terms of building a Central European alliance, as indicated by last week’s V4 summit in Budapest and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s visit to Vienna on Tuesday, in addition to which next week’s joint session of Hungarian-Serbian cabinet also matches this concept”, Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office János Lázár said at the Governmentinfo 108 press conference, which he held jointly with Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács.

The Minister said the negotiations between Viktor Orbán and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz had been fruitful and successful, indicating that all outstanding issues had been discussed at the meeting. With relation to protecting the Schengen border, he said it was a fundamental interest for close security cooperation to be established with Austria, adding that there was full agreement between the parties regarding the fact that Europe’s borders must be protected.

On the subject of the Paks II project, Mr. Lázár said Hungary respects Austria’s anti-nuclear stance, but trusts that cooperation between the two countries can be successfully established with relation to the nuclear power plant once the dispute between the European Commission and Vienna is over.

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The Minister also spoke about joint Austrian-Hungarian infrastructure cooperation, explaining that from the Hungarian side motorways will be reaching the Hungarian-Austrian border at three points, at Körmend, Szentgotthárd and Sopron, and the Hungarian party has asked the Austrian Government to link the Hungarian highways to its motorway network.

Mr. Lázár also told the press that a V4-level ministerial conference on the EU budget will be held in Budapest on Friday with the participation of two EU commissioner, including European Commissioner for Budget Günther Oettinger, who will also be holding a meeting with Viktor Orbán.

János Lázár is asking for recordings by thermal cameras along the border barrier to be made public

János Lázár is asking the Minister of Interior to make recordings registered by thermal cameras along the border barrier to be made public. Reporting on his on-site experiences, the Minister said: Illegal immigrants are attempting to cut through the border security fence using cold chisels every 2-3 hours on a daily basis, adding that according to the information available those involved, who are being followed by groups of migrants, are paying one thousand euros in Serbia to be accompanied to the border.

If there was no double fence and sufficient manpower at the border, there wouldn’t be 30-50 attempts to enter the country every day, but people would be trying continuously, the Minister said, also indicating that migrants who are apprehended and accompanied back to one of the transit zones aren’t refugees and have absolutely no intention of submitting requests for asylum. 600 out of Csongrád County’s total staff of 2000 police officers are needed to participate in border protection along the County’s section of the border, he said.

Mr. Lázár also confirmed that the Cabinet had authorised Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó to begin preparations for Hungary’s exit from the series of negotiations on the UN’s migration package if the organisation’s aims are unchanged in the draft document published next week. According to the Minister, the current plan is disappointing and contrary to Hungary’s interests.

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As an example, he explained that according to the United Nations immigration should be organised and not stopped, administrative burdens should be eased throughout the world, and the legal spheres of competence of organisations that stand above nation states must be expanded. He said the fact that the UN plans to not only liberalise the border protection of Western countries, but also of countries in which immigration has not appeared until now, was a serious problem. “If the text remains unchanged, we would have to open the border, but the Government cannot identify with this; this is an absolute error and a misinterpretation of the situation”, the Minister highlighted, adding that such a move would fundamentally call into question the country’s sovereignty.

He also criticised the fact that the international organisation plans to make the right to asylum a fundamental human right, meaning everyone would have the right to decide where and how to live their lives, irrespective of where they are born. “Hungary cannot associate itself with these plans in their current form”, Mr. Lázár emphasised, also criticising the fact that the UN is taking it as read that 60 million people will be leaving Africa and isn’t even trying to react to the causes of migration.

Mr. Lázár also recalled that the UN took on the cause of organising immigration in 2004, and the Secretary General at the time stated in the European Parliament that immigrants need Europe and vice versa, and that the majority of those involved are hard-working people who do not want to sponge off the system. In contrast, according to a study by the OECD published last May, only 7 thousand of the 1.1 million migrants living in Germany actually work for German companies, he pointed out, also noting that in recent years the former UN Secretary General in question has been in the employment of one of George Soros’s foundations.

The Minister also stressed that the Hungarian Government is affording protection to everyone who needs it and who can prove that they are being persecuted and are being forced to flee their homes, adding that the Interior Ministry has been publishing the figures regularly and in recent years 3500 people have been issued with documents enabling them to move freely within Europe.

“Since 2015, the Government was always differentiated between people who are being politically persecuted and economic migrants”, he declared, rejecting current attempts to confuse the two issues.

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In reply to a question on the expected consequences of possibly exiting the series of UN negotiations, he said that all moves of this kind have diplomatic repercussions and “it will not be increasing the number of friends we have from that world”.

As the press conference, Mr. Lázár called on the leaders of Jobbik to refrain from provoking the mayors of settlements with populations of less than five thousand people with relation to the reorganisation of the local government system, because the changes that have been realised have been successful and the development of these settlements has been assured. In his assessment, Gábor Vona and Lórántné Hegedűs are being irresponsible and “talking utter nonsense”, and it is a huge mistake for people to abuse the goodwill of the citizens of smaller settlements during the election campaign.

“We rarely see attempts to provoke the leaders of small settlements and to threaten or alarm them at a national level” without writing the name of the recipient on the letter, he said, adding that those involved are not receiving letters that are personally addressed to them, but which use the general title “Dear Mayor”.

Accelerated administration for the Family Home Creation Allowance

Mr. Lázár also reported on several topics relating to the economy, including the simplification of the Family Home Creation Allowance (CSOK) scheme. The goal is to achieve simpler, faster and cheaper CSOK administration, in the interests of which the Government is introducing the principle of declaration during the course of applications, meaning that no documents will need to be provided; it will be enough to make a statement. In addition, bank administration deadlines will also be reduced, he explained.

He noted, however, that “there are some who would like to do away with” the CSOK allowance for newly constructed homes. The LMP would prefer to force people into rented accommodation, he said.

The head of the Prime Minister’s Office highlighted the latest economic indices, pointing out that the figures for the end of last year are the best in 30 years. He spoke about the fact that unemployment has been falling continuously for the past 60 months, the reduction in the number of people involved in the public work scheme and working in foreign facilities, and the increase in the average wage.

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The Government is considering the compensation of injured parties in the Szeviép affair

The Minister also spoke about the fact that the Government is considering the compensation of the injured parties in the Szeviép affair in Szeged. He told reporters that the legal representative of the victims had asked him to petition the government, which is waiting to receive the submission and would like to help the affected small and medium-sized enterprises.

Mr. Lázár stressed, however, that the responsibility must also be shouldered, and accordingly the Cabinet feels it is important that Szeged city leaders are also called to account with relation to the case. “Accountability and compensation must occur concurrently”, he declared.

Szeviép Cls. became insolvent on 18 April 2009, and following an unsuccessful bankruptcy procedure the court ordered the company’s liquidation on 13 August 2010. The company’s insolvency endangered 20 thousand jobs, caused the bankruptcy of more than three hundred enterprises, and the liquidity of the other companies involved also became precarious.

New dual carriageway to be built between Törökszentmiklós and Berettyóújfalu

The Minister also told the press that the Government had made the decision to construct a dual carriageway connecting Törökszentmiklós, Püspökladány and Berettyóújfalu, as a continuation of the M4 motorway. The project is expected to cost 100 billion forints (EUR 323 million), and a budget of 8.4 million forints has been authorised for the preparation of the project. He confirmed that plans also include the connection of the City of Szolnok with the M0 orbital motorway.

He also reported on the fact that monthly allowances for 74 thousand war orphans will be increased from 8550 forints to 10 thousand forints. This is 120 thousand forints for each beneficiary each year, which equates to an average month’s pension, he pointed out.

With regard to the decisions of the two government cabinets, Mr. Lázár said a decision had been made concerning the renovation of the County Government Office in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County at a cost of 4 billion forints, funds had been earmarked for the Ministry of Human Capacities to assure the worthy commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Artúr Görgey, and the cabinets had reviewed the legislative requirements deriving from the country’s membership of the EU.

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In reply to a question on plans to connect the HÉV suburban railway with Budapest’s M2 Metro line, Mr. Lázár said the modernisation of the HÉV is inescapable, and the suburban rail network “needs to be great”. He also indicated that the government was not in favour of the construction of a new metro line.

The Minister was also asked with relation to his recent statement on people involved in the public work scheme, according to which there is a relationship between public work and the reduction in crime. “The government is offering people work instead of subsistence crime”, he said. He apologised, however, to people who were possibly offended by his oversimplified statement, which “was not meant to be exclusionary”.

In reply to a question on the possible state acquisition of telecommunications company Telenor, the Minister said the question had not been raised. He added, however, that he believes it is important that there should be a state-owned telecommunications company.

With relation to the demands put forward at the recent student rally, the Minister said it is irresponsible to “embroil” secondary school students in a national election campaign, but some of the students’ requests, such as the one relating to the school workload, are nevertheless worthy of attention, but this must be handled within the framework of the national curriculum, and politicians aren’t the ones who must decide on what is taught at school.

With relation to the looming termination of the continued operation of the Pécs children’s hospice, the “Dóri House”, Mr. Lázár said the Ministry of Human Capacities will be making contact with the organisation and will be providing assistance to the foundation that runs the hospice.

In reply to a question concerning whether Viktor Orbán had met with Austrian businessman Heinrich Pecina during his recent visit to Vienna, the Minister said: “He didn’t appear while I was there”.