Minister János Lázár finds the Strasbourg court ruling which condemned Hungary on account of the expulsion of two Bangladeshis unacceptable and unenforceable.

The Government will appeal against the decision, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office announced at his Thursday press conference held in Budapest, where he said: Hungary insists, based on the principle of the reinforcement of sovereignty, that it should have the right to decide whom to take in and whom to expel. The human rights court, however, takes the view that it is not the Hungarians that should decide who may live in Hungary, but based on the recommendation of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee – which represented the two Bangladeshi nationals –, the Strasbourg court will make that decision, Mr Lázár said upon commenting on the judgement.

He found it sad that the Hungarians working in the Helsinki Committee do not understand that the community of Hungarians does not want to let illegal immigrants in.

He also objected to the part of the court decision which claims that the human rights of migrants are not adequately guaranteed in Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey. In his view, this finding is simply incomprehensible, and is also contrary to the decision of the European Council which lays down that illegal immigrants must be taken back to both Greece and Turkey.

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The politician also said: with the second border fence to be completed by May and the tightened legal border closure that will take effect as of next Tuesday, „the border will be sealed fully and comprehensively”. He added that the Government is ready for the debates related to the legal border closure: the Ministries concerned take the view that the legislation is fully compatible with the EU’s expectations and legal system.

He further drew attention to the threat that Turkey may terminate the migration agreement concluded with the EU, and illegal immigrants would then set out for the borders of the continent once again. Hungary must prepare for this eventually with an independent border closure arrangement of its own, he stated.

He also pointed out: it is important that Hungary should maintain good relations with Turkey, while the EU is expected, he said, to honour the agreement reached with the Turks.

Mr Lázár further told the press that the next national consultation will begin within two weeks, and the questions are being prepared by the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister.

He informed the attending members of the press that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will travel to Rome in the afternoon where he will attend the conference organised on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome establishing the EU. EU Member States are planning to adopt a draft declaration, and a process of consultations extending to December 2017 will begin with respect to the future of Europe, he said.

Regarding the Prime Minister’s Tuesday visit to the city of Salgótarján, he also said that the Programme of Modern Cities, as part of which the Prime Minister will next pay a visit to Győr, will soon come to an end.

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Government discussed topics of coach and steel production and health care issues

Mr Lázár also reported at the press conference on the latest topics and decisions of the cabinet meeting.

In the context of the national coach manufacturing programme, he said: the Hungarian State and its companies will purchase 1,869 Hungarian-made coaches up to 2019, and as a result, the fleet of state-owned buses will be fully renewed over the course of three years, from a stock of locally made vehicles to the value of some HUF 36 billion in total. Regarding the steel industry which was also on the agenda of the government meeting, he said: state assistance is required in order to enable domestic steel production – which is currently a two-player segment and employs approximately 5 thousand people – to expand.

The Government decided, the Minister continued, that the National Sports Health Care Institute will move to Karolina út in the 11th district – to the premises of the former orthopaedic clinic – not only temporarily, but will continue its operations there also in the long term.

Regarding the financial closing of the Budapest Olympic bid, the Cabinet decided that the HUF 12.6 billion not yet used from the allocation of HUF 19.1 billion set aside for the preparations must be transferred back to the central budget, and the company Budapest 2024 Nonprofit Zrt. will undergo liquidation.

Pay rises in water sector

The Government also decided on pay rises in the water sector, the Minister said, and indicated in answer to a question: they are also ready to review the pay of health visitors.

Upon outlining the latest government decisions, Mr Lázár also informed the press: health care screening programmes focusing on children, women and active people of working age – screening tests for breast, cervical, colon and rectal cancer as well as screening tests for circulatory diseases – will be launched this year. For the purposes of the programmes, they will purchase twenty special screening buses, ten of which will be equipped to perform mammography tests.

In response to the letter of István Éger, President of the Chamber of Physicians, he said: there is scope for making the monthly excess grants provided for general practitioners a regular supplement.

In the context of the decisions adopted by the Government, he finally also said that they have allocated an additional HUF 18 billion for the extension of the express road between Eger and the M3 motorway, while by virtue of another decision, they will launch an EU fishery development programme worth HUF 16 billion.

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The Minister said in response to the court judgement passed with respect to the publicity of the donations towards spectator sports which can be deducted from the corporation tax: they maintain that the corporation tax sports donations are not public funds. He said: the legal situation must be clarified, and therefore they will turn to the Curia for a review of the decision.

The Minister promised the conductors of the Pető Institute: the administrative error related to their pay, on account of which they receive less money, will be corrected within weeks.

At the press conference, Mr Lázár offered his condolences on behalf of the Government due to the Wednesday attack in London, as well as to the relatives of the injured victim of the Verona coach accident who passed away on Wednesday.

It is the Government’s duty to protect Hungarian businesses against a multinational corporation

It is the duty of the Hungarian Government and the Members of the Hungarian Parliament to protect every Hungarian business against a multinational corporation that seeks to make a display of its power, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office stated on Thursday at his Budapest press conference in the context of the case of the brewery making Igazi Csíki Sör.

Mr Lázár said: „This is a battle between David and Goliath”. Heineken is abusing its strength and power, and the Government cannot allow a large corporation to do so at the expense of Hungarian interests. He added: every Hungarian business, within and beyond the borders, should perceive and know that their interests cannot be violated without consequences.

He found it sad that Heineken contested the EU trade mark on 17 March before the court of the EU, and asked the court to prohibit the owner of the brewery making Igazi Csíki Sör from using this name. He reiterated that there were two legal disputes in the case: one in Romania, and the other one in Brussels. Heineken won the lawsuit in Romania, while in Brussels, in the European trade mark dispute the case was awarded to Csíki Sör.

According to the Minister, „Heineken’s policy is disproportionate”, and is „shooting at sparrows with a cannon”. Igazi Csíki Sör does not cause Heineken any kind of economic injury, whether in Hungary, or in Transylvania, in Romania. He sincerely hopes, he continues, that Heineken will come to its senses and will come to an agreement with Igazi Csíki Sör in the spirit of the principle of „live and let live”.

Regarding the other aspect of the case, he said that the freedom of opinion is not curtailed in any way by the legal rule that prohibits the commercial use of forbidden symbols of despotism. He pointed out in continuation: they would like to make a distinction between the freedom of opinion and the freedom of commercial expression as human dignity is superior and takes precedence in commerce.

He indicated that, together with his colleagues involved in the drafting of the proposed legislation, he is open to debates, the Prime Minister, too, supported the submission of the bill, and this stage will be followed by a three-month EU codification process which may be extended by a further three months. He remarked that the practice of the European Court of Human Rights has changed in recent years: they have set a new direction in commercial and trade mark disputes in the context of the use of forbidden symbols of despotism.

He said: in 2011, a British perfume making company requested the authorisation of the use of the coat of arms and political symbols of the Soviet Union for the purposes of a trade mark intended for the distribution of its products. The court refused the request because the use of the symbols of a communist power would violate the sensibilities of the people of Latvia and Hungary, he detailed. Mr Lázár also highlighted: he does not believe that Heineken changed the red star to white between 1951 and 1990 without good reason. He said that the case was also discussed by the Government, in addition to Parliament.

The Minister also informed the press: he will travel to Csíkszereda on Thursday afternoon where he will meet with the owner of the brewery making Igazi Csíki Sör. He said: he must offer the Hungarian Government’s assistance in the situation that has developed.

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In answer to a question concerning the nine-grade elementary school, the Minister said that the State Secretary for Education will discuss the plans with the public education roundtable and experts. According to the concept, the additional grade would be inserted between kindergarten and the first grade of elementary school, but the details have not yet been identified, and the concept can be implemented subject to the outcome of the consultations, he explained, remarking: they may introduce it in the 2018/19 school year, at the earliest, with the addition of an extra grade every year thereafter.

Regarding the costs of the World Aquatics Championships and the Danube Arena, Mr Lázár said in answer to a question that in Hungary there is a substantial temporal gap between the decision on a project, its planning and implementation. The fact in itself that the implementation of a project or a public procurement proves to be more expensive than contemplated upon its planning does not give rise to the suspicion of any kind of abuse or corruption, he stressed. He added: in the case of the Danube Arena, upon the launch of the project, costs were estimated to be in the magnitude of HUF 38 billion, and the cheapest bid received did not exceed this sum by 15 per cent.

In answer to the question that, according to reports, the organisers are planning to invite the British rock band the Rolling Stones to the opening ceremony of the World Aquatics Championships, Mr Lázár said: the Government did not concern itself with this issue, the Government makes political decisions. It is the organising committee’s duty to decide what the opening and closing ceremonies will be like, he said. He added: the World Aquatics Championships may create an opportunity to attract more-than-average attention to Budapest, and if this is used for country marketing purposes, it is a good thing.

In the context of an interview with a former secret service officer published on the portal Index, he said: he cannot disregard the fact that secret service reports originating from the pens of certain journalists are regularly published on the portal. In his opinion, this is not a coincidence, and he took the view that these articles „follow a certain pattern” and „present events from a certain angle”. „I don’t know what’s behind it all, but I hardly believe it’s a mere coincidence”, he said.