On Thursday an agreement was reached in the Council for Metropolitan Public Developments about the conditions which the Metropolitan General Assembly identified in connection with the organisation of the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, and the government will commit these to a decree by 31 December.

At a joint press conference held after the meeting, Gergely Gulyás, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office said the council is a forum which serves as a platform for the settlement of any disputes between the capital’s leadership and the government. While even after Thursday’s meeting open issues remain, there are areas in which the parties managed to come to an agreement or in which their differences lessened, he said.

He said – as far as they see at this point in time – they will be able to come to an agreement on the Southern city gate and health care developments in Budapest as in the cabinet’s Healthy Budapest Programme there is more funding available than that requested by the metropolitan municipality for the development of out-patient care.

The Minister said they asked the Mayor of Budapest to lift the ban on the construction of hospitals, bridges and museums, similar to the ban on stadiums.

Regarding the former, the government would like to build the new South Buda hospital centre in the original location; however, on this they were unable to come to an agreement as the capital recommended alternative locations.

They likewise failed to reach an agreement on the issue of the Galvani Bridge because the capital’s leadership supports the construction of the Albertfalva Bridge despite the fact that all professional and technical arguments are in favour of the former whose planning has already begun, the Minister said. He added that they would like the council to be able to adopt a decision on this at its next meeting due to be held in two months’ time.

Mr Gulyás also said they asked Mayor of Budapest Gergely Karácsony to consider under what conditions he would be able to support the implementation of the planned ‘Liget’ cultural projects. If the capital does not require the government’s assistance in connection with the Liget Project, that should be a comprehensive refusal, meaning that it also applies to the Pannon Park built on the premises of the zoo, he said. He added that the metropolitan municipality reported a major shortage of funding in the case of this municipal project, for the purposes of which the government first made available HUF 26 to 27 billion, and later a further HUF 15 to 16 billion.

The Minister finally observed that they will also continue the dialogue about the refurbishment of the Chain Bridge.

Mayor of Budapest Gergely Karácsony said before the meeting there were ominous signs, but he believes that the talks were successful overall as they made significant progress in a number of cases. He expressed hope that the Council for Metropolitan Public Developments will enable a stable dialogue between the government and the capital’s leadership.

He said it is a victory for the people of Budapest that the World Athletics Championships will be held in a facility which is supported by the majority and could be used by all sports-loving people after the event.

They will decide jointly, within the Council, regarding the utilisation of the package worth HUF 50 billion intended for the development of out-patient care in Budapest in the next five years, based on the needs of districts, he said.

The Mayor of Budapest was happy to hear that the government would like to renovate the Szent János Hospital. However, they have a professional dispute about the location of the new South Buda hospital centre, he continued. The capital suggested areas near the Kelenföld Railway Station because at present the area selected by the government cannot be accessed via public transport, he said.

They will also need further professional consultations regarding the issue of the Galvani Bridge versus Albertfalva Bridge, Mr Karácsony added.

However, in the case of Városliget, he said he does not see how views could be reconciled. He said they cannot and do not want to change the position that they do not want new buildings in the area. He added that, also in this instance, the capital offered alternative locations, while the government stated repeatedly that it will not implement projects against the capital’s will.

In answer to a question, Mr Karácsony said the capital is unable to raise the funds necessary for the completion of the biodome from its own resources, while new procurements related to the interior spaces will fall due as soon as in March. In answer to further questions, he said the refurbishment of the Chain Bridge cannot be delayed any further. Therefore, the idea emerged that they would implement the project without the renovation of the tunnel, and the government itself did not say no to this alternative.

Mr Gulyás pointed out that the government has provided HUF 6 billion for the refurbishment of the Chain Bridge.

The head of the Prime Minister’s Office said nine out of ten arguments are for the construction of the Galvani Bridge. According to Mr Karácsony, in this case, the parties should consider that the Galvani Bridge, in addition to alleviating traffic in the centre of the city, would connect together areas yet to be developed, while the Albertfalva Bridge would help to improve the traffic and transport options of large housing estates.