The correct attitude is to advance confidence to the new leaders and leader candidates of EU institutions, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office stated at his press conference held on Wednesday in Budapest.

He said at the government meeting they evaluated the results of the EU summit and heard the Prime Minister’s report on the proceedings.

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Gergely Gulyás highlighted that there are differences on a number of issues between some of the leader candidates and Fidesz and the Hungarian government. However, the essence of the European Commission’s successful functioning is that its leader should proceed as a guardian of the Treaties despite any differences, he added. He said the main thing is that “our goals” – stopping migration, protecting Christian culture and respecting a Europe of nations – should not be under attack.

He said the most important goal of the Hungarian government is to ensure that the Commission is headed by a leader who is capable of reaching a consensus among the Member States, and for this task neither Frans Timmermans, nor Manfred Weber is suitable.

He took the view that Frans Timmermans’s activities were exhausted in attacks on the countries of Central Europe – primarily Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic – and he “made the harshest defamatory comments about democratically elected leaders”. Therefore, he is not capable of reaching a consensus among the Member States, and it is good that it was made clear that he did not have the required majority support.

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Regarding Manfred Weber, the Minister pointed out that the People’s Party politician said he did not wish to become President of the Commission with the votes of the Hungarian people which was “such an insult for Hungarian electors – regardless of which party they supported in the European parliamentary elections – that on our part the evident response was to oblige his request”.

He observed that many are realising now that granting this request of his meant, in actual fact, that he had lost his chance to become President of the Commission.

According to Mr Gulyás, based on the latest developments, the Spitzenkandidat system has failed, but in Hungary this happened some time earlier as in the European parliamentary elections people voted for Fidesz “not because, but rather despite the fact” that Manfred Weber was the lead candidate of the European People’s Party (EPP). The Spitzenkandidat system is a crude attack on the ideal of the rule of law as the heads of state and government have the right to nominate a candidate for the position of leader of the European Commission, he pointed out.

He said their clear position regarding the decision on the person of the President of the Commission was that, regardless of the fact that Manfred Weber does not have the required trust, the European People’s Party cannot surrender the right to nominate the President for the next Commission. They managed to achieve the nomination of a People’s Party candidate, and while there are issues on which the parties do not agree, there is a chance that Ursula von der Leyen will mediate fairly among the Member States and will play the role of guardian of the Treaties well, he explained. He added that “we do not have a problem” with someone taking a different view on migration. We have a problem if they want to impose their view on us. He underlined that “we only expect tolerance”.

In answer to a question as to whether, in his view, Ursula von der Leyen could be a better commission president than Jean-Claude Juncker, the Minister said in this regard he is “incredibly optimistic” because “the bar has been set rather low”.

He observed that the nomination of Ursula von der Leyen emerged as a joint French-German proposal.

The Minister stressed that at the EU summit the cooperation and unity of the Visegrád Four (V4) had proved to be unshakeable, today this is the strongest cooperation in Europe, and its strength lies in its very unity. While the V4 prime ministers belong to different party families, the fact of belonging to a single region overrides party family affiliation, he added.

In the past two days the opinion of the V4 has proved to be unavoidable, he observed in reference to the EU summit.

Regarding the fact that news reports suggest that Klára Dobrev (DK) could become President of the European Parliament, Mr Gulyás said if someone obtains a European office as a member of an opposition group, they, too, are entitled to the advanced trust that “they will use their office in the country’s best interests”.

In answer to a question concerning Hungarian-Ukrainian relations, the Minister said Ukraine, too, has a vested interest in restoring the former nationality rights within the shortest possible time, and once the original situation is restored, Hungary will stop using its right of veto in international affairs concerning Ukraine.

Mr Gulyás pointed out that four of the seven points of the family protection action plan had entered into force.

There is enormous interest on the part of the public, and by the end of the month the government is expecting to report the highest ever interest in any family protection measure implemented so far, he said.

There are ongoing talks between Hungary and Norway regarding the utilisation of the Norway Grants; however, the Hungarian government is not sure whether there will be an agreement, the Minister said in answer to a question, taking the view that Hungary is entitled to these grants.

He added that what makes it more difficult to reach an agreement is that the Norwegians insist on “supporting George Soros’s civil society organisations,” while Hungary suggests that the full amount should be spent on the integration of the Roma community in Hungary.

In answer to a question, Mr Gulyás said he has no information about the US President having been asked to mediate in the dispute between Hungary and Norway.

Regarding a referendum related to asset declarations, he said the Hungarian system of asset declarations is one of the most stringent in the entire EU, but they are open to all bona fide suggestions concerning possible changes. The idea has already emerged, and it would be easier also for Members of Parliament if information on their real estate holdings was made accessible to the public in the land office records, he said, indicating that the number one question is whether the land office system is capable of providing such a service at all. It is possible that this would require an IT development.

The Minister was asked regarding the fact that the news portal Index reported earlier during the day that the government parties will amend the Fundamental Law – among other things, they would prohibit adoption for same-sex couples – if Mayor of Budapest István Tarlós wins the municipal elections in the autumn. He said Index had started the election campaign as a member of Gergely Karácsony’s (Párbeszéd) campaign team. It is absolutely absurd to connect any amendment to the Constitution to the mayoral election, he stressed. He pointed out that they do not wish to change the rules related to adoption, based on which only opposite-sex couples are allowed to adopt children.

In his view, the finding of the article asserting that, according to Fidesz’s internal surveys, István Tarlós is not expected to do well in the upcoming metropolitan elections, is a lie.

He informed the press that, in order to reduce the excessive work load of metropolitan government windows, some 35 to 36 municipal administrators have come to Budapest from government offices in the countryside. They have reduced the opening hours, which will increase the time available for administration, he added. He said the civil servants who came to the capital to help out have been put up in single-bed rooms, and they can also expect a supplement.

In answer to a question, he said approximately six hundred civil servants have left the metropolitan government offices. He further reported that from next January, some seven hundred case groups will no longer fall within the competence of government offices, and from then on the current staff will most certainly be sufficient. They are also considering employing pensioners for the interim period, from September, he said.

The Minister was asked what his thoughts were regarding the fact that several opposition parties and MPs, including DK and MSZP, did not vote for “lex Czeglédy”. Mr Gulyás said he finds this sad, but in his view this is only what can be expected given their actions so far. It is best if no one is immune from prosecution if they are nominated as candidate for Member of Parliament, he stressed. He said today in Parliament there is a majority which does not support exemption from prosecution.

He said with respect to the postponement of the public education law that they are open to change regarding an important detail, pursuant to which oral evaluation could be retained with the permission of the Office for Education. At this point in time, this is the only decision that has been made, he said in answer to the question of whether any changes are expected concerning other disputed points.

Mr Gulyás pointed out that one cannot rule out anything, but he does not believe that the legislative amendment related to the research institutes of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences is in violation of any EU regulation and that an infringement procedure could be instituted as a result.

In answer to a question concerning the need for further regulation in connection with the Pride events held in Budapest, Mr Gulyás said the government believes that every person’s dignity must be respected; however, the right of children to healthy physical and emotional development takes priority over everything else.

Regarding the fees of those nursing their parents, sisters or brothers at home, the Minister was unable to tell in what percentage of cases there may be abuses. There is ongoing monitoring, he added.

He said there is no decision – but it is not out of the question that such a decision may be adopted – to the effect that in the municipal elections Fidesz would support Mayor Ákos Szabados (independent) in the 20th district.

In response to press reports about the possible shortening of opening hours on Sunday, the Minister said they are not planning any regulation regarding this matter.

(Prime Minister's Office/MTI)