Tag Archives: Hungary

Hungary prepares for 1M Ukraine refugees

Brussels 25.03.2022 The Hungarian government position on the war in Ukraine, as Prime Minister Orbán reiterated on a number of occasions in recent weeks, remains clear and concise:

“We cannot allow Hungary to be dragged into an armed conflict, but we will continue to help all those fleeing war. So far, we’ve welcomed nearly 600,000 refugees from Ukraine, making Hungary the second-biggest host country after Poland; and we will continue to do our best to help those fleeing the war as we have done in the past” Orban said.

To this end, the government has organised care for refugees from Ukraine. By taking the necessary government decisions and coordinating the work of the armed forces, police, disaster relief services, government agencies, local authorities, health workers and volunteers, the government has ensured that the care of refugees is ongoing and covers everything from asylum procedures to treatment of the sick or wounded arriving in our country.

The government is also coordinating the accommodation of refugees from Ukraine, even helping them find a job, should they choose to stay in Hungary mid- to long-term

Help points have been set up near all border-crossing points on the Ukrainian-Hungarian border; these are available 24/7 to provide acute medical care, transport, accommodation and other assistance.

PM Orbán spent the second half of last week visiting towns and villages close to the Ukrainian border and confirmed that “everything is going smoothly.” According to him, “coordination at the border is working well, and, in the coming weeks, we will be able to continue to help all those in need.”

In Budapest, the Hungarian government turned a major sports and concert hall, called the BOK Sports Hall, into a humanitarian transit point, with more than 4,400 square meters of indoor space where refugees can receive a variety of services available to them. Since March 21, the transit point has been open around the clock and provides food, drink, medical care, sanitation, travel arrangements, a children’s corner and internet access, in cooperation with charities and volunteers. Additionally, Hungarian Railways (MÁV) is operating an international ticket office at the transit point where refugees can collect their solidarity tickets. For those traveling on from the transit point, special buses are available to the Keleti and Nyugati railway stations as well as Ferenc Liszt Airport, and for those staying in Hungary, accommodation is provided.

Meanwhile, through the National Humanitarian Coordination Council, the government is coordinating the collection of aid, donations, humanitarian aid supplies, and the work of domestic relief organizations.

On top of this, Hungary has organised healthcare for refugees, for everything from treating sick children to helping cancer patients, and GPs and ambulance staff can request Ukrainian-language assistance if they need interpretation.

A 24-hour hotline is available to provide information in Hungarian, Ukrainian and English on issues of importance to refugees. These include the procedures for recognition as an asylum seeker, border crossing, entry, and required documentation; the help desk also tries to offer assistance in individual life situations. The hotline is available at the following phone numbers: 06/80-310-310 from Hungary, 0-800/504-546 from Ukraine and +36/1-550-1828 internationally.

When it comes to material support, Hungary has provided around HUF 2 billion in humanitarian aid to date, including HUF 1.35 billion within the framework of the Hungary Helps Program, utilized to help local communities in Transcarpathia. In addition, Hungary has sent HUF 600 million worth of aid and disaster relief equipment so far.

The Hungarian government has recently provided HUF 500 million worth of support to each of the six charity organisations involved in the Bridge for Transcarpathia coalition, amounting to HUF 3 billion. The Coalition continues to receive donations by phone and by bank transfer, with the total amount raised now at HUF 792 million. This amount is received by the six charities through the National Humanitarian Coordination Council and can only be used to cover the costs of caring for refugees.

While taking in those who have fled is a high priority, Hungary has not forgotten that the sick and wounded in the war also have to be treated. This is why Hungary has also donated medical equipment and medicines to Ukraine as part of a coordinated EU assistance: We sent 120 ventilators to hospitals in Transcarpathia and other Ukrainian hospitals immediately before the outbreak of the war, and we have recently donated more than 200 ventilators, 250 patient monitors, 25 central monitors, 100 infusion pumps and blood bags.

The Hungarian government expects the refugee influx to intensify in the coming days and weeks, with the total number of refugees admitted by Hungary reaching 1 million very soon. Hungary, Hungarian society, and our charity organisations, authorities and volunteers are all ready and prepared to do a superhuman job in making sure that everyone is cared for, the Hungarian diplomacy ensured.

Hungary: EU Court allows funds freeze

Strasbourg 16.02.2022 The EU funds are tied to EU values — EU Court of Justice strengthens the rule of law
The long-awaited ruling of the top European Court, issued today, confirms the legitimacy of protecting the Union budget from negative effects resulting from breaches of the principles of the rule of law. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has always supported the mechanism to tie adherence to the rule of law with the disbursement of EU recovery funds.

Today’s decision of the Court in support of the conditionality tool has reaffirmed the European Union’s efforts to limit the erosion of democratic principles in the Member States. It is a strong signal that EU values such as the rule of law and solidarity are non-negotiable”, EESC president Christa Schweng said.
According to one of EESC’s most recent opinions, The rule of law and the recovery fund, (20 January 2022), systematic shortcomings in the rule of law undermine the implementation of EU-funded programmes, and the absence of a rapid and comprehensive EU response to this jeopardises the EU’s credibility. The EESC recommends that sanctions be applied swiftly when breaches of law present a risk to the Union’s financial interests.

Addressing backsliding on the rule of law by any Member State is important in order to preserve the legitimacy of the EU’s fundamental values”, president Schweng said.

The court case that challenged the conditionality mechanism was brought by Poland and Hungary. The two countries claimed inter alia the mechanism exceeded the powers of the EU.

Organised civil society regularly states its concerns at breaches of the rule of law and judicial independence and expresses its wish for the Member States to adhere to EU standards.

MEPs debate Hungary EU budget restrictions

Strasbourg 06.07.2021 The budget conditionality regulation does not require any additional clarification to be applied and rule of law breaches must be addressed without delay, say the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

“We are now one step closer to finally applying the Conditionality regulation against those breaking the Rule of Law in the member states. With the Parliament’s contribution to the guidelines, we offer the Commission the means and tools to act without hesitation. The regulation is ready to be used”, said the co-rapporteur Petri Sarvamaa (EPP, FI) after the vote.

In a resolution adopted by the Budget and Budgetary Control committees on Thursday with 53 votes 11 against and 2 abstentions, MEPs regret that the Commission has decided to abide by the non-binding December 2020 European Council conclusions and delay application of the budget conditionality regulation.

They stress that the guidelines cannot alter, expand or restrict the scope of the budget conditionality regulation and that, in order to add any value, they must clarify how the legislative provisions will be applied in practice, outlining the procedure, definitions and methodology.
They also call on the Commission to set out a “clear, precise and user-friendly system” for submitting complaints under the regulation.

MEPs call on the Commission to investigate swiftly any potential breaches of the principles of the rule of law “that affect or seriously risk affecting the sound financial management of the Union budget”, by pointing out that “the situation in some member states already warrants immediate action”. The Commission should report to Parliament on the first cases under investigation by October 2021 the latest, they add.

MEPs finally criticise the Commission for having missed the deadline set by Parliament to apply the regulation and adopt the guidelines by 1 June 2021. They welcome the 23 June letter by the President of Parliament saying that if the Commission does not act, the EP will take action in the Court of Justice.

“We have said from the beginning that the guidelines were not necessary, but the Commission put forward its proposal and asked the EP for its position. So here it is. Parliament is always ready to work with the Commission on the rule of law, and in turn we expect the European Commission not to deceive us. It must act swiftly and strongly”, said the co-rapporteur Eider Gardiazabal Rubial (S&D, ES).

French European Affairs junior minister Clement Beaune said on Wednesday he expected a form of sanctions against Hungary over Hungary’s anti-LGBT law.

Beaune also said he was not in favour of kicking Hungary out of the European Union, reiterating earlier comments to this effect from French President Emmanuel Macron.

“I am not in favour of Hungary being kicked out of the European Union”, he told RTL radio.

Hungary dabs HR Report “absurd”

Brussels 30.09.2020 Immediately after the Rule of Law presentation by the European Commission, the Hungarian government issued a communication, providing an assessment of the document, viewing it as highly subjective, and politically motivated tool serving other purposes than declared.

Commission’s Rule of Law Report is not only fallacious, but absurd. It cannot serve as a basis for any further discussion on rule of law in the European Union. The concept and methodology of the Commission’s Rule of Law Report are unfit for purpose, its sources are unbalanced and its content is unfounded.

The Commission’s Rule of Law Report makes no reference to objective benchmarks that apply equally to all Member States.

The choice of sources in the report is biased and non-transparent. It is unacceptable for the Commission’s Rule of Law Report to be written by organisations forming part of a centrally financed international network engaged in a coordinated political campaign against Hungary. The Hungarian chapter makes reference to twelve “civil society organisations”, eleven of which have in recent years received financial support from the Open Society Foundations linked to Mr. Soros.

Hungary is one of the few Member States where genuine pluralism prevails in the media, in ideological debates, and in the public sphere in general. Unlike the Western European media landscape, which is overwhelmingly dominated by leftist and liberal outlets, in Hungary the situation is more balanced, with conservative and Christian Democratic views also receiving meaningful coverage in the public sphere.

The Fundamental Law of Hungary and the country’s state structure are based on the rule of law. The protection of Hungary’s constitutional identity is the obligation of every organ of the state.

Objective and impartial analysis of all reliable information concerning the situation in Hungary can only lead to the conclusion that the fundamental values of the European Union are being respected, and that the rule of law is being observed”.

The European Commission has today published the first EU-wide report on the rule of law. Today’s report includes input from every Member State and covers both positive and negative developments across the EU. It shows that many Member States have high rule of law standards, but important challenges to the rule of law exist in the EU. It also reflects relevant developments stemming from the emergency measures taken by Member States due to the coronavirus crisis. The report covers four main pillars with a strong bearing on the rule of law: national justice systems, anti-corruption frameworks, media pluralism and freedom, and other institutional issues related to the checks and balances essential to an effective system of democratic governance.

Hungary official refused word by German press

Hungary State Secretary Zoltán Kovács’s response to Der Tagesspiegel – has been refused the publication of his response ot Der Tagesspiegel, and started to share it via social media:
“In an article published last week in German daily Der Tagesspiegel entitled “Why nationalism doesn’t help against the pandemic,” Judith Langowski and Jonas Bickelmann claim that instead of organizing an effective defense against the coronavirus, Prime Minister Orbán and his government are using the virus to achieve ideological goals.” (Image: illustration).

I asked for an opportunity to respond but was refused with the reply that “It will not be possible at this time, neither in the online, nor the print edition.” Langowski did also write that she would “gladly” talk to me the next time they cover the topic. How generous!”

“In an article published last week in German daily Der Tagesspiegel entitled “Why nationalism doesn’t help against the pandemic,” Judith Langowski and Jonas Bickelmann claim that instead of organizing an effective defense against the coronavirus, Prime Minister Orbán and his government are using the virus to achieve ideological goals.

I asked for an opportunity to respond but was refused with the reply that “It will not be possible at this time, neither in the online, nor the print edition.” Langowski did also write that she would “gladly” talk to me the next time they cover the topic. How generous!

In their most recent piece, the authors recall that in late March, the Hungarian Parliament passed a piece of legislation, the so-called “Coronavirus Protection Act,” that allowed the government to “issue decrees indefinitely”; and while this law had already been lifted by the end of June, Tagesspiegel notes that it could be reintroduced “very easily.”

But there’s really no need to get into the details; we all know what these critics are trying to say: Instead of saving human lives, PM Orbán’s government allegedly harnessed the pandemic for political gains. This is not just overly biased, but also completely wrong.

Here are the facts:

This past spring, numerous mainstream, liberal news outlets were sounding the alarm over the “erosion of [Hungarian] democracy” (The Independent) and claiming that PM Viktor Orbán would supposedly “rule by decree, alone and unchallenged” (The Guardian).

These fears, however, were proven to be groundless.

Contrary to what these biased sources would have had you believe, the Hungarian government never received “unlimited powers.” The special powers the government did receive could be exercised only to prevent, treat, eradicate and remedy the harmful effects of the coronavirus. Similarly, the extraordinary measures were never intended to last “indefinitely”; they were meant to expire with the threat or be lifted by the National Assembly. And this is exactly what happened at the end of May, when the government proposed to hand back the extraordinary powers it had received under the state of emergency, which had been put into effect solely to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Today, we know that the Coronavirus Protection Act has, in fact, served the country well. It enabled the government to take swift action, closing borders, enacting movement restrictions, and equipping our national healthcare system and healthcare providers with the equipment necessary to treat all those who required care — all of which served to slow down the spread of the disease. Thanks to this legislative package, with 39.04 confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 inhabitants by early June, Hungary ranked among the top performers in Europe in terms of managing the pandemic. As Prime Minister Orbán has recently said on several occasions: In managing the first wave of the epidemic, Hungary scored among the top 20-25 countries globally.

Yes, it may be true that the number of active coronavirus cases and, sadly, the number of deaths have been climbing during the last few weeks in Hungary, but this is not due to any “populist strategy.” In fact, in a national consultation survey that ended on August 31, we collected the views of more than 1.7 million Hungarians. Based on this vast data, the Hungarian government concluded that while the defense against the coronavirus is a top priority for our citizens, we must simultaneously keep the country functioning.

This is why, in the middle of the second wave, we cannot adopt the same, strict restrictions that proved so successful during the first wave of the crisis. But don’t worry, Hungary will be fine. We have a war plan in place for managing the second wave of the crisis and our healthcare system has been properly prepared. We have all the necessary equipment, hospital beds, ventilators and healthcare professionals we need.

In Prime Minister Orbán’s own words: “Together we will succeed in defeating the second wave of the pandemic”.

Hungary migration position unchanged

Since 2015, the stance of the Hungarian Government on migration has been clear and unchanged. We have presented this stance and our proposals on several occasions” writes Zoltan Kovacs, the Secretary of State for International Communication and Relations, International spokesman, Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister Victor Orban.

We believe that the European Union and its member states must cooperate in keeping the looming migration pressure outside our borders. To this end, we should form alliances with countries of origin, so that they are able to provide proper living standards and ensure that their people do not have to leave their homelands. Instead of importing the trouble to Europe, we must bring help to where it is needed.
We believe that Europe’s borders must be protected: External hot-spots will have to be established to process asylum claims; we must ensure that the external borders of the EU and the Schengen Area remain perfectly sealed along all sections.

“Our goal is to see EU member states support each other in achieving the tasks above. While Hungary does not support obligatory distribution, it does defend joint borders, and we expect to receive the same amount of support as other Schengen states protecting those external borders. We would like to remind everyone that since the 2015 migration crisis, the Hungarian Government has spent more than 1 billion euros on protecting the borders of Hungary and the European Union, without a single cent of contribution from Brussels”.

Orban: EU «salto mortale»

“…The world is changing. The changes are tectonic. The United States is no longer alone on the throne of the world, Eurasia is rebuilding with full throttle, the frames of our European Union are crackling, and now it hopes to save itself with a salto mortale. The ground is trembling under the feet of our eastern neighbour. The Balkans is also full of questions to be answered” said Prime Minister Viktor Obran, during the ceremony of unveiling of a new memorial in commemoration of the Trianon centennial.

“A new order is being born. In our world, in our lives as well, great changes are banging on our gates.”

“…The West raped the thousand-year-old borders and history of Central Europe. They forced us to live between indefensible borders, deprived us of our natural treasures, separated us from our resources, and made a death row out of our country. Central Europe was redrawn without moral concerns, just as the borders of Africa and the Middle East were redrawn. We will never forget that they did this” Orban continued.

“…We need to live with the self-confidence and attitude of a nation that knows it has given more to the world than it has received from it. Our performance entitles us to continue our history. And today we also need to know that we have had worse borders, yet we are here” the Prime Minister concluded.

Orban considers quitting EPP

“This cannot go on,” Prime Minister Orbán said in his regular Friday morning interview on the public Kossuth Rádió on January 17. If the European People’ Party doesn’t stand up for Hungary, then we will have to start a new, Christian-Democratic European movement.”

Besides the European Parliament vote yesterday, the Prime minister talked about Vicegrad Four – V4 relations with Austria, “prison deals” in Hungary and the Roma segregation case in Gyöngyöspata.

In a resolution adopted in the European Parliament Plenary with 446 votes to 178 and 41 abstentions, MEPs note that reports and statements by the Commission, the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe indicate that “the situation in both Poland and Hungary has deteriorated since the triggering of Article 7(1)”.

MEPs point out that the hearings organised by the Council under Article 7 of the Treaty are neither regular nor structured. They call on the Council to address concrete recommendations to the countries concerned, including deadlines, to ensure EU law is respected.
The failure by the Council to make effective use of Article 7 continues to undermine the integrity of common European values, mutual trust and the credibility of the European Union as a whole”, claims the EP.

The text also urges the Commission to use all tools at its disposal to prevent a serious breach of common values, such as expedited infringement procedures and applications for interim measures before the Court of Justice.

MEPs debate Rule of Law in Hungary

The Chairman of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee of the European Parliament Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar expressed his disappointment with the low attendance at the hearing on Rule of Law in Hungary, taking place on November 21 in Brussels. During the hearing the Finnish presidency representative Marja Rislakki reported on the results of the previous discussion, and announced the issue would be further presented to the General Affairs Council on December 10
to consider Article proceedings against Hungary.

The Article 7(1) procedure triggered by the European Parliament should assess if Hungary is at risk of breaching the bloc core values. According to milestone “Sargentini report” issued in September 2018 named after Green MEP rapporteur, the judicial independence, freedom of expression, corruption, rights of minorities, and the situation of migrants and refugees are in jeopardy.

The majority of four fifths among member-states would be sufficient to launch the procedure foreseen in Article 7 of the EU Treaty, which might trigger sanctions, such as the suspension of the country’s voting rights in the Council. However the Finnish representative Ms.Rislakki acted with reserve, reluctant to anticipate the outcome of the December meeting, and promising to deliver MEPs opinions to the Council, she added that’s during December Council hearing the new developments in Hungary will be also discussed.

At present the Fidesz party has delayed the judiciary reform, which caused the EU outrage, namely highly criticised system of administrative courts to deal with sensitive public administration lawsuits. However the MEPs has criticised Viktor Orban government, claiming the moving of the Central European University (CEU) to Vienna is symbolising the level of ‘unfreedom’ in Budapest,

Among a few MEPs, showing interest to the subject, the Renew Europe MEP Ramona Strugariu (shadow rapporteur) has put forward a request to participate in the General Affairs Council, explaining her wish in the line of “cooperation” between the European institutions.

While taking a floor the Hungarian MEP Baslazs Hidveghi (Fidesz, EPP) denied any problems with the Rule of Law, explaining that in the EU the issue is interpreted in politically bias manner, used by the Liberal left in an asymmetric attack on Orban government for refusal of migrants relocation. According to the opinion, widespread among Hungarians, the Liberal left has focused on his country in an unprecedented way, imposing requests, which no other member of the bloc has ever faced, Hidveghi underlined. And the reason for this pursuit is in their discontent with the Hungarian attachment to the Christian values, and the determination to conduct sovereign policies, MEP concluded.

Turkey intercepts 350K migrants

At joint press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Budapest, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that the meeting is an outcome of a 2013 agreement that established a Turkish-Hungarian strategic council on the highest level. Since then, PM Orbán said, the leaders of the two countries have come together yearly to discuss the spectrum of issues of critical importance to both countries.

Hungary exists within a geographic space that has been marked out by three capitals: Istanbul – or Ankara – Moscow and Berlin,” Prime Minister Orbán said, reminding listeners that Russian President Putin visited Budapest a few days ago while the German foreign minister also visited recently.

Turkey is a strategic partner for Hungary in terms of both migration and security,” the prime minister said, because – as a fundamental premise of Hungarian foreign policy thinking – “without Turkey, it is not possible to halt migration to Europe.”

“This year alone,” Orbán added, “Turkey has intercepted 350 thousand illegal immigrants. Had Turkey not done so, they would have already been here in the vicinity of Hungary’s southern border.”

Asked about what would happen if Turkey decided to “open the gates” and let all migrants move toward Europe, Orbán said that “Hungary is a country that is able to protect its borders,” adding that Hungary has all the personnel, defense capability and technology required at its disposal for protecting the border, which is an external border of the Schengen Area.

« Older Entries