Minister Overseeing the Office of the Prime Minister János Lázár held the 52nd ever government marathon press conference today. Unfortunately, government spokesman Zoltán Kovács was unable to attend. In his place, a former HírTV reporter-turned government official assisted the minister in the almost two-and-a-half hour event.
State planning now moves to industrial park development
On the subject of the government’s sell-off of state-owned agricultural lands, Lázár announced that the revenues from the land sales would be used to buy land and build industrial parks — because this is a national interest.
According to Lázár, laws might need to be changed to allow this to happen because revenues generated from the selling of agricultural lands must go into the coffers of the National Land Fund.
The EU penalty for discriminative highway construction tenders
He also announced that the Hungarian government has reached a settlement with the European Commission regarding discriminative measures in Hungary that limited which companies could submit tenders in certain infrastructure development projects, such as highways.
According to Lázár, Hungary will have to dole out about HUF 48 billion (USD 175 million) as a consequence of this settlement. The European Commission would free up around HUF 400 billion that it froze as a result of the pending investigation.
So far, Hungary has no plans to build a fence along its border with Romania
The Hungarian government sees no reason for the time being to move forward with plans to build a border fence along the Hungary-Romania border.
“Illegal immigration in Hungary today is concentrated on the Hungary-Serbia border,” Lázár said.
According to him, human smugglers and migrants are putting increased pressure on Hungary’s southern border and southern Europe. Lázár believes the smugglers are now using children and women to further their interest in seeing full migration into Europe.
Hey Europe, we still don’t want to take refugees
He also spoke at length about the government’s refusal to take in any refugees as part of a burden-sharing plan approved by the European Council. Lázár said EU member states such as Germany and Sweden should remand the refugees to Greece because that’s where they entered the EU.
New law for use of EU funds
Lázár announced the government’s plans to introduces changes to the way EU funds are used in Hungary. According to the new plan, state-owned enterprises that are awarded tenders for the use of EU funds will now receive 100 percent of the funds upon being awarded the tender. Private companies, however, would continue to receive 50 percent at this stage.
Hungary will stand by Poland in its time of need
Hungary will stand by Poland now that the European Commission has decided to take action against the Polish government for violating the rule of law. According to Lázár, the European Commission’s procedure against Poland is unfair, discriminative, unworthy and unlawful.
On András Schiffer’s resignation from the leadership of LMP
One reporter asked Lázár what he makes of András Schiffer’s resignation from the leadership of Politics Can Be Different (LMP).
“I’m especially saddened by this,” Lázár replied.
On the huge earning of companies tied to ruling party Fidesz
“The Hungarian economy is growing and Hungarian businesses are successful,” Lázár said.
He went on to point out that it would be wrong to assume corruption is involved when a small group of businesses tied in one way or another to the government is doing so well.
The Quaestor scandal has no ties to the government
One reporter asked Lázár about information published in Hungarian weekly 168 óra regarding the Quaestor case. According to 168 óra, evidence shows that key Quaestor executives exchanged missives about contacting the government for help when they realized their brokerage was about to go belly up.
According to Lázár, businessmen thinking they could rely on political help to save them from the brokerage’s collapse were in for a surprise. They tried to call politicians for help but received the police instead.
He did not mention anything about the government withdrawing its holdings from the brokerage right before the collapse was announced.
The refugee crisis continues to be Germany’s fault
According to Germany’s Bild, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán pulled a fast one on Austria and Germany last summer when the two countries agreed to provide a safe haven for the refugees stranded in Budapest’s Keleti train station.
Citing numerous high-level government sources, Bild reports the Hungarian government lied to the German and Austrian officials when quietly discussing they would take the refugees stranded in Hungary.
According to the story, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then-Chancellor of Austria Werner Faymann agreed to quietly take the thousand or so asylum seekers from Hungary as a “one-time” act because doing anything else would “bring shame to Europe both morally and politically.”
Orbán, who had milked this opportunity for everything it was worth, reportedly grossly understated the number of asylum seekers on their way to Austria.
When Lázár was asked about the story, he flatly rejected it. According to him, Orbán is always super direct and honest and his government employed no deception.