Hungary could be given a post within the European Commission that is key to the future of the European Union. This is a mark of appreciation both for Hungary and for commissioner candidate László Trócsányi, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office said on Thursday at the press conference Governmentinfo in the context of the fact that elected President Ursula von der Leyen has nominated the Hungarian politician to the position responsible for neighbourhood and enlargement policy.

Gergely Gulyás stressed that there is a need for the integration of the Balkans, and accession talks must be initiated or accelerated with all the countries which meet the relevant conditions. This serves to strengthen the European Union. At the same time, the countries intending to join the EU must also be given some indication regarding their prospects, he added.

He indicated that during the hearings before the European Parliament, the Hungarian candidate could be subjected to attacks as the portfolio is closely related to the issue of immigration that divides Europe. It is the Balkans route that has stopped mass migration, he recalled.

The Minister described the expected attacks as revenge for the Hungarian position taken with respect to immigration policy, adding that László Trócsányi is being attacked also in Hungary by the representatives of pro-immigration forces.

Hungary is entitled to this portfolio, he recalled, and everyone would do well to consider how far they should go in attacking Mr Trócsányi, about whom Mr Gulyás said that he is one of the most competent candidates.

Regarding the criticisms levelled at Hungary due to the reinforcement of the system of public law, he said the relevant changes did not take place during Mr Trócsányi’s term as justice minister, and so “it is difficult to associate them with his person”.

The government still has no exchange rate target, and respects the independence of the central bank, he pointed out in answer to a question about the exchange rate of the forint, adding that today the depreciation of the forint is a much less important question after the majority of Hungarians have been rescued from the trap of foreign currency debts.

In answer to a question about the effects of the depreciation of the forint on the budget, Mr Gulyás said exchange rate fluctuations – a weaker forint as the case may be – generate as much revenue for the budget as losses. He pointed out that he does not see the current exchange rate fluctuations as extreme enough to warrant any more in-depth action concerning the Hungarian government’s economic policy.

The delivery of the Prime Minister’s letter enclosed with the household utility vouchers of pensioners does not cause any extra costs, the Minister said answering a question.

He stated regarding the search conducted at the campaign centre of the opposition mayoral candidate András Pikó in Józsefváros in Budapest that a report was filed by the local election committee due to the fact that, based on photographic evidence, they took the view that there is a strong suspicion that a crime may have been committed. In his view, looking at the picture, it is hard to come to any other conclusion than that a crime has indeed been committed; however, investigating the case falls within the competence of the authorities.

There is a normal, professional procedure under way in the case, and the investigating authority would have proceeded incorrectly if they had failed to respond to the report filed by the election committee, he stressed.

“As far as I see, the opposition does not shy away from any means in the election campaign,” he stated. He said he agrees with Máté Kocsis, the head of Fidesz’s parliamentary group in that such a scandal must have personal consequences, and that he sincerely hopes that electors will draw the right conclusions.

A further question concerned the fact that three Fidesz Members of Parliament in the previous parliamentary term, Roland Mengyi, György Simonka and Gábor Varga may have colluded in public procurement cases. The Minister said earlier the tax authority had stopped the investigation; however, currently the prosecution service is investigating the case. It is the duty of the individuals concerned to assist the investigation, he stated.

In answer to a question, Mr Gulyás confirmed that he will remain Minister also after the election of party officers, and will not be Vice President of Fidesz.

István Tarlós could be successful as mayor of Budapest because he cooperated with the government, he said, but cooperation will be the duty of the leader of Budapest of the time, he stressed. The fact that Gergely Karácsony is unable to cooperate proves that he is not fit for the position, he pointed out in response to a question.

The amendment of the Fundamental Law is not on the agenda, he said in answer to a question, stressing that they do not wish to change the provision laying down that marriage is the union for life of a man and a woman, and for biological reasons, they can have children.

Regarding press reports that the Hungarian Development Centre has sustained a hacker attach, he said he has no information about hacker attacks, and there is absolutely no information about any loss of data.

To date they have received some 31,000 applications for the baby expecting support, and banks have concluded almost 19,000 contracts. The Minister informed the press that at its Wednesday meeting, the government heard a report about the status of the family protection action plan. So far banks have concluded 18,800 contracts; 88 per cent of the contracts have been concluded for the maximum sum, HUF 10 million, another 5 per cent for sums between HUF 8 and HUF 10 million, and 5 per cent for grants between HUF 5 million and HUF 8 million, while the percentage of contracts concluded for sums below HUF 5 million stands at 2 per cent, he said outlining the most important details of the report concerning the baby expecting support.

Mr Gulyás said in summary that to date contracts worth HUF 181.5 billion have been concluded in connection with the baby expecting support, and the average amount applied for is HUF 9.7 million, meaning that most families have availed themselves of the maximum sum.

Speaking about the car purchase support for large families, the Minister told the press that so far more than 22,431 applications had been submitted, and 5,238 decisions had been adopted. He added that they are making efforts to accelerate the process. He said more than forty car models match the conditions; based on the applications, from among these the most popular models are those made by Dacia, Opel, Ford and Skoda.

Mr Gulyás further reported that 7,712 applications had been submitted for the reduction of mortgage debts, and 3,419 positive decisions had been adopted so far. He indicated that also in connection with these applications they are seeking to accelerate the processing of applications. Regarding the village housing benefit ‘csok’, he said according to 31 July data, 375 applications had been received, and the approved applications amounted to some HUF 2.1 billion.

He also highlighted that they are even more satisfied with the Hungarian Villages Programme as 96 per cent of settlements with a population of less than 5,000 have registered for the programme, and 92.5 per cent have already submitted applications.

According to the Minister’s information, to date they have disbursed HUF 21 billion in connection with already assessed applications: HUF 6 billion for medical appliances and surgeries, HUF 13 billion for the building and refurbishment of church and communal spaces, and HUF 2 billion for sports facilities. Within the refurbishment of communal spaces, he continued, they have allocated funds for the development of cemeteries, the procurement of equipment necessary for the maintenance of residential public premises, village and farm caretaker services, the refurbishment of the gardens of nursery schools, the renovation of municipal roads, and the refurbishment of municipal offices and the lodgings of general practitioners. The Minister said in evaluation that the Hungarian Villages Programme has a prompt and well-functioning tender system where decisions are adopted swiftly.

Mr Gulyás informed the press that the government had heard a report on the collective redundancies at the Jászberény Electrolux factory. He said in the spirit of the economic policy focusing on job creation, the government will do everything it can in order that the workers affected by the collective redundancies should not have to spend a single day without a job.

They would like to achieve by 1 January that there should not be a single worker who wants to work without a job, he said, adding that they have opened an office so that they can deal with the future employment of each and every worker.

Mr Gulyás took the view that the developments and investments that have recently been implemented in the vicinity of Jászberény represent sufficient capacity to absorb everyone so that no one is left without a job.

He said at the government’s request, Mihály Varga who as finance minister is also responsible for employment affairs, and Minister for Innovation and Technology László Palkovics had paid a visit to Jászberény. He added that the competent government office is looking into the legal background of the collective redundancies affecting 800 persons.

In answer to the question as to whether the Hungarian government will indeed reopen the Hungarian embassy in Syria, Mr Gulyás said they support the reconstruction effort, but at this point in time no decision has been made about the opening of the embassy.

Regarding reports that according to DK MEP Klára Dobrev, opposition MEPs will seek to achieve in the European Parliament that local governments should be able to directly apply for EU funds, Mr Gulyás said the current practice under which EU funds are received by Member States will not change; the percentage of grants available directly is negligible, and will remain just a few per cent.

The Minister was also queried about the fact that this week at the Hungary-Slovakia football match, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had his picture taken with Andrej Danko, Chairman of the anti-Hungarian Slovak National Party (SNS). The journalist asked Mr Gulyás what message he thought this conveyed to Hungarians in Slovakia. In this context, Mr Gulyás drew attention to the fact that the question neglects the circumstance that the person in question is the Speaker of the Slovak Parliament who watched the match together with the Speaker of the Hungarian Parliament, and who has in the past few years positively helped the Hungarian community with the enforcement of its interests. That the Speaker of the Slovak Parliament watches a match such as this from an executive box does not even arise as a question in the case of a country with a minimal degree of sophistication, he observed.

(Prime Minister's Office/MTI)