Below is the Hungary government’s official English language summary of the press conference held by Minister Overseeing the Office of the Prime Minister János Lázár on Thursday, November 12th, 2015–the thirtieth such press marathon press conference he has held this year.
We are ready to protect Hungarian-Romanian border
If necessary, the Government is ready and able to erect a technical border fence within a short time on the Hungarian-Romanian border as well, János Lázár, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed at the press conference “Governmentinfo 30” which he held jointly with Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács.
The Minister said that if Austria and Slovenia also erect fences on their borders, there is a chance that illegal migrants may divert their route from Serbia towards the Hungarian-Romanian border. The Hungarian Government also has a plan for this eventuality, on the basis of which it is ready and able to protect the border, he said, stressing, however, that they will start the construction of the fence on the Hungarian-Romanian border section as a last resort. Should the need arise, he added, the fence may be built on a section of some one hundred kilometres, first at the Hungarian-Serbian-Romanian triple border, in the region of Szeged.
Mr Lázár also reiterated that Hungary will not take back repatriated migrants.
The head of the Prime Minister’s Office stressed repeatedly: “we are not interested in the organisation of immigration, but in stopping the flow”. In his words, it is György Soros’s political programme that Europe will be a better place if there are migrants on the continent in the largest possible numbers.
In response to the news related to the protection of the Austrian border, he said: it was a mistake on the part of the Austrian neighbours to have talked to Hungary from upon a high horse because they themselves will evidently be forced to build a border fence in the interest of protecting their country.
The Minister was also queried about what Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said in an interview: “the Western-Europeans are paying the price for the policy of easterly enlargement” and “it is not in order that these countries should now teach us a lesson in morals”. He said: if it were ever possible, those executed after 1956 should be asked about what they got from the West.
European Commission insisted on guaranteeing land acquisition by foreigners
The Minister told the press that, in addition to the Constitutional Court, MSZP and Jobbik also filed reports against the Hungarian Government with the European Commission which indicated as part of a consultation that they insist that – in accordance with the Hungarian and EU regulations – foreigners should also be able to buy land, but would otherwise reject the two opposition parties’ reports.
As he said, there are 105,000 registered farmers in Hungary; 222 of them are not Hungarian nationals, mostly Austrians, Germans and Romanians. He added that, at the Prime Minister’s request, a report was compiled regarding these 222 individuals, and he observed that many of them have Hungarian names.
According to Mr Lázár, the European Commission indicated at the beginning of the week that an infringement procedure is being prepared against Hungary in the case, including a suspension decision, and therefore Ambassador Olivér Várhelyi, deputy head of the Permanent Representation in Brussels is engaged in ongoing consultations with the Commission.
As the Minister explained, the European Commission found it objectionable that foreigners cannot buy land and cannot obtain bank loans for this purpose. The Commission had no objection to the criterion that only local farmers are eligible to buy land, he pointed out.
Mr Lázár said that the EU has not yet terminated the infringement procedure; at the same time, the procedure is not an embarrassment to Hungary as it was instituted in response to a submission filed by MSZP. He further remarked that, by the account of Commission personnel, the largest number of reports are filed against Hungary from Hungary; the Hungarian nation as a “nation of denouncers” is in the process of globalisation.
He stated in summary: MSZP has successfully achieved that land auctions should now be opened up to foreigners as well. We may congratulate the socialist party on a job well done, he added.
In answer to a question, he took the view: there is a possibility that some 10 per cent of the land currently offered for sale may end up in the hands of foreigners. He also said that the Government has an interest in ensuring that the list of foreign farmers is accessible – in full observance of the data protection regulations – and that there is information on the size of the land they own.
He further reiterated that the passages of the land legislation continue to remain under scrutiny, or as he said, “attack”, in Brussels because the EU wishes to achieve that legal entities should also be eligible to acquire land in Hungary.
He informed the press that credit applications worth HUF 10 billion had been received by Budapest Bank, and the financial institution has already approved these.
In answer to a question, Mr Lázár stated in justification of the offering of another 20,000 hectares of land: it was necessary to clarify the details regarding the settlement of value-increasing investments carried out on the landed areas. He told the press that the State will deliver ownership of the landed areas free from any encumbrances.
Mr Lázár further reported that the new landowners will have the option of regularly reviewing the rates of the rentals they charge, but will not be allowed to charge rentals in excess of the market rates. He reiterated that Balázs Győrffy, MP for Fidesz, the head of the Hungarian Chamber of Agriculture presented a proposal on this to Parliament.
He pointed out: the proposal may be called lex Simicska, but it concerns companies which rent landed areas from the State at rates below the market price. He added: at present, the average market land rental is around HUF 2,000 per gold crown, and the State leased land for HUF 1,600-1,800 per gold crown after 2010, while between 2002 and 2006 there were rental agreements where this fee was HUF 580.
He also told the press that if there are any landed areas that remain unsold, the Government will decide on their future at the beginning of January.
Passports should be free for children of large families
In the context of the reduction of fees in public administration, the Minister said: he will propose that the children of large families should be given passports free of charge.
He further told the press that the Government will discuss the system of family support and the family first home benefit next week, while the Ministry of National Economy will also prepare a housing policy package for the meeting.
Speaking about Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s visit to Nyíregyháza, he reiterated that the Digital Hungary Programme is being “tested” in Nyíregyháza. In this context, he pointed out: it is an enormous question, upon the installation of the broadband Internet network, as to what kind of services municipalities and the State will be able to provide with a view to enhancing competitiveness.
Mr Lázár said in answer to a question regarding data management by the Századvég Foundation: he has no information on anyone having committed a breach of state secrets. Consequently, in his view, this is a political attack on the Government’s strategic advisory organisation.
He reiterated that they are awaiting the Curia’s decision on the issue of the publication of the Századvég studies, and they have contacted the President of the Curia for the adoption of a decision within the shortest possible time.
Also in answer to a question, the Minister said: they are working on rescuing the Pápa meat processing plant – where the municipality decided to file for liquidation proceedings – in the interest of saving the company and jobs. In his words, the company’s fate is in the hands of the municipality, but the Government will attempt to provide all necessary means to enable the municipality to help.
He informed the press that the agenda of the cabinet meeting to be held on 18 November will feature the plan regarding the development of churches in Hungary, the financing of public transport in Budapest, and the refurbishment of the Museum of Applied Arts.
(Prime Minister’s Office)