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János Lázár: We’re not pro-immigration, we’re pro-Hungarian interests

Minister Overseeing the Office of the Prime János Lázár held his thirtieth marathon press conference today. The minister’s main talking points addressed the refugee crisis, the sale of state-owned agricultural lands, the Századvég state secret scandal, and plans to involve historical churches in the distribution of EU funding.

Refugees? We don’t want them

Lázár made it abundantly clear that Hungary wants absolutely nothing to do with asylum seekers. Hungary opposes plans by the European Commission for a quota system and Hungary will not receive send-backs from other EU countries, the minister said.

Hungary will help fix the refugee crisis by flexing its muscles

While Hungary adamantly opposes EU plans to distribute asylum seekers already inside the EU among EU member states, the Hungarian government is ready to deal with the problem by building another fence along the Romanian border.

The government, Lázár included, is quite happy to see that the Slovenian and Austrian governments are building border fences. Hungary, it seems, was able to set an example that its neighbors have decided to follow. Unlike Hungary’s border fence with Serbia and Croatia, the Slovenia-Austria border fence is a border between two Schengen Zone countries.

Lázár said Hungary and the other Visegrád 4 countries have agreed to send police and border guards to the border between Greece and Turkey to help defend the European Union from migrants.

And just in case the asylum seekers passed through Hungary…

Lázár said around 4,800 migrants have submitted asylum requests since the border fence was built. Hungary’s immigration authority has rendered a decision on 1,250 of these requests. 928 asylum procedures were cancelled because the asylum seeker could not be found and only two individuals were granted international protection — all other requests have been rejected.

We’re not anti-immigration…

“The Hungarian government’s position is not anti-immigration.  It’s pro-Hungarian interests,” Lázár said.

Following that logic, if having “pro-Hungarian interests” means Hungary is anti-immigration, then those in favor of helping asylum seekers are anti-Hungarian.

“People like George Soros, as someone from outside Europe who wants to organize the transportation [of the asylum seekers], declared in a political program that Europe will only be better if it takes in more and more immigrants,” said the minister.

“Historical churches” to take part in EU fund distribution?

“The Hungarian government, the Ministry of Human Resources and the Prime Minister’s Office will submit a proposal on future developments and opportunities available to Hungarian churches. Today in Hungary, the historical churches are the largest institutions outside the government itself. That’s why we need to open access to EU funds to the historical churches. This is an important objective for the government,” Lázár said.

The minister said the Minister of Human Resources is preparing a plan that will enjoy the full support of the Prime Minister’s Office, and which aims to involve Hungary’s “historical churches” in the European Union fund distribution system.

“We’ll be recommending a kind of system in which the commerce-related tenders must be approved by the chamber of commerce, and ‘historical churches’ must be consulted with in tenders related to institution development,” Lázár said.

His announcement comes just before parliament is set to vote on adopting a new Church Law after the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled the current Church Law, passed in 2011, violates the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. This particular issue is highly sensitive because Hungary’s “historical churches” do, in fact, represent the largest religious organizations in the country.

Jobbik and MSZP attacked Hungary in Brussels

Lázár talked about the sale of state-owned agriculture lands. He said Hungary’s opposition parties complained to Brussels about the land sales because they were upset that foreigners couldn’t buy land.

It turns out that the European Commission took issue with the fact that foreigners were barred from buying land in the government’s new land sale. Lázár said there are 222 foreigners who reside in Hungary who, thanks to the tattle-tale opposition, will now be allowed to purchase lands.

He said the government has increased the total area of lands to be auctioned off to 20,000 hectares.

Századvég scandal

Fidesz-linked think-tank Századvég may or may not have had unauthorized access to state secrets between 2010 and 2013. Lázár didn’t exactly refute the notion that Századvég was granted access to state secrets without receiving formal approval. He said he has no information that any laws were broken.

Why is this interesting? The government recently lost a lawsuit in which the court ordered that all studies and policy proposals authored by Századvég (on behalf of the government) be made public. If any of these documents contain state secrets, the government would have to redact said information from the documents. The government has obstructed any attempt to release documents tied to Századvég.

Benjamin Novak :