Viktor Orbán’s real to-do list for Moscow

Standard

todolistDespite the extremely delicate conflict in Ukraine, and despite calls and warnings from the united opposition and the European Union, the Prime Minister of Fidesz will hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow tomorrow. Unfortunately, Viktor Orbán cannot be expected to bang on the table of the Russian President on sensitive and important issues, even though not so long ago they represented strong values. For example, the European programme of Fidesz (“Yes, Hungary can do more – 2009”), which is still in force today, states that “if Europe allows sovereign states in its neighbourhood to fall victim to undisguised imperial despotism, it will also endanger its own security; the European Union can only act effectively as a united front against Russia, which is once again openly proclaiming its expansionist ambitions.”

Since the current Hungarian Prime Minister, still in office for a short time, has not taken into consideration any pleas or warnings, I have summarized in a few points the most important issues that Viktor Orbán should definitely put on the negotiating table if he has the opportunity to meet President Putin. Let us hope that the President of Fidesz will have the courage and the advocacy skills to be able to come home with real results on these issues, and that his visit to Moscow in this situation will therefore have at least a minimal impact.

1. Demand firmly that the Russian state speed up the European licensing of the SputnikV vaccine through fair disclosure and cooperation, rather than obstruction and delay. Hundreds of thousands of Hungarians are currently facing costly restrictions because the Russian vaccine they have been administered is not yet part of the EU COVID certificate. In this context, we would like to make it clear that in the vaccine plant in Debrecen, currently under construction, we will only produce vaccines authorized by the EU, i.e. until SputnikV has EMA approval, contrary to our previous intentions, we do not want any.

2. Firmly bring to the attention of the Russian side that the Hungarian government considers Russia’s call for a return to the 1997 military situation in the post-Soviet region in connection with the Ukrainian conflict, which would essentially mean the termination of Hungary’s membership in NATO, as a serious breach of Hungary’s national sovereignty. It must be made clear to the Russian side that Hungary is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union, and that it therefore has the interests of this community at heart.

3. State firmly to the leader of Russia that we will not tolerate any external intervention in the Hungarian elections in April. If Russia were to try to manipulate the Hungarian elections by any means, the Hungarian government would not let it go without consequences. At the same time, we call on President Putin to make sure that Russia immediately gives up its practice of influencing elections and internal affairs in EU Member States, citing the coup in Montenegro as an example.

4. Take a strong stand against the obstruction and state-directed harassment of the opposition in Russia. Make it clear to President Putin that the Hungarian government, as the guardian of democratic European values, is perplexed and concerned when Russian opposition figures are surveilled abroad, attempted to be assassinated, and possibly even successfully assassinated.

5. Strongly condemn the violence in the Belarus region and any Russian support or involvement in it. The Hungarian government sends a clear and unequivocal message to the Russian leadership that it finds it unacceptable that on the eastern borders of our alliance it artificially maintains in power a political leader who was presumably elected by fraud and who has imposed violent military force against his own citizens in breach of all human rights standards.

6. We strongly demand the withdrawal of full diplomatic immunity for the staff of the Russian International Investment Bank. This gives the impression that the institution in Budapest is in fact a Russian spy centre with free access to the European Union. President Putin would obviously agree that, in a tense international conflict, even the appearance must be avoided that the Fidesz government is helping the Russian secret service to gain a foothold in the EU in return for some kind of supposed quid pro quo.

MEP István Ujhelyi
31.01.2022.

United Opposition for Hungary: Orbán must not go to Moscow, but if he does, he better not come back!

Standard

UntitledNever in the three decades since the fall of communism has our country’s sovereignty been under such attack as last week, when Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Hungary to leave NATO. Russia, which is currently contemplating invading Ukraine, is asking us to betray our allies, to renounce our sovereignty and to render our country militarily defenceless. After this absurd call, the Hungarian Prime Minister, always so vocal against our country’s allies, remained silent. No sovereignty-fearing freedom struggle or sword-fighting, just a plane ticket to Moscow. No wonder that by now the European Parliament and our allies are anxious about the meeting, and in this tense situation, it is simply treasonous to go to Moscow.
United for Hungary demands that Viktor Orbán reassure our country’s rightfully outraged allies, cancel his visit to Moscow and make it clear that “we will not be a colony”; Hungary belongs in the European Union and NATO! A prime minister who, in such a situation, remains silent and springs up to go to Moscow when he’s signalled to do so with a snap, only to stand on the edge of the carpet in the Kremlin, betrays the interests of both Hungary and Europe. United for Hungary demands that the Prime Minister cancel his visit to Moscow, and if he does not, he better not come back!

MEP Klára Dobrev (DK)
MEP Anna Donáth (Momentum)
MEP Márton Gyöngyösi (Jobbik)
MEP István Ujhelyi (MSZP)
MP Erzsébet Schmuck (LMP)
MP Szabó Tímea (Párbeszéd)

Budapest / 30.01.2022.

Ujhelyi re-elected as first vice-chair of EP’s TRAN committee makes him highest ranking Hungarian EP-official

Standard

 Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi was elected as the first vice-chair of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee for another two and a half years, which makes him the highest-ranking Hungarian MEP in the European Parliament.

In the previous parliamentary term, the MSZP MEP was the third vice-chair of the EP’s TRAN committee for several years, and was elected to the post of first vice-chair two years ago in recognition of his work – he was re-elected to this post with unanimous support at the mid-term elections. Following the expulsion of Fidesz MEPs from the EPP, who lost their influence and committee posts, with his first vice-chair position Ujhelyi is now the highest-ranking Hungarian politician in the European Parliament.
After the vote, the Socialist MEP stressed that the transport and tourism sectors are going through an extremely important period of European reforms, and that the TRAN vice-chair post therefore brings with it much more responsibility and even more opportunities than in previous periods.
In the transport field, Ujhelyi cited as examples the climate change package, the issues of digitalization and automation, changes in intelligent transport systems, or the priorities for urban mobility and the development of rail transport.
“Before the coronavirus, the tourism sector provided jobs for more than 27 million people, of which at least 6 million have been permanently under threat in the last year and a half. Before the pandemic, tourism was responsible for around 10% of GDP in the European Union, but this has now fallen substantially as a result of the crisis. One of the most important challenges ahead will be to responsibly re-launch the tourism economy, to focus on education and sustainability issues, and to develop digital training systems,” said István Ujhelyi after the TRAN Committee meeting.

Brussels/Budapest – 24.01.2022.

Ujhelyi: Records from Brussels prove Orbán-government did nothing to help those vaccinated with Eastern vaccines

Standard

PZ__0187The Orbán government has abandoned Hungarians who had been vaccinated with vaccines from the East, (i.e. vaccines not authorized by the EU), as confirmed by Brussels records, said MSZP MEP István Ujhelyi in his online press conference.

The Socialist politician based his statement on the fact that although the Hungarian government delegate had numerous opportunities to make proposals in the competent committee to ensure the free travel of Hungarian citizens with Eastern vaccinations, he did not do so, according to the minutes from the meetings he had requested. At the press conference, Ujhelyi described the EU’s single Digital COVID Certificate as an important achievement the creation of which, he said, had played a significant role in preventing Europe’s functioning and economy from collapsing completely due to the impacts of the epidemic. He added, however, that there are at least two million Hungarian citizens who, having been forced to take vaccines from the East, are not entitled to the privileges of the single COVID certificate and are therefore discriminated against when traveling for work, study or commuting, for example, because they do not qualify as fully vaccinated.
“I was called an anti-vaccination murderer when I warned the government about this, but even then it was more concerned with propaganda and serving Fidesz economic circles than the fate of the Hungarian people”; Ujhelyi said. He added that after the government was unable to conclude a sufficient number of bilateral agreements with other countries on the recognition of Eastern vaccines, it started lobbying for at least the third, EU vaccines to be recognized as a condition for the COVID certificate. Ujhelyi said that in September last year, at his request, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, confirmed in writing that the issue would be put on the agenda of the Health Security Committee meeting.
However, this would require a proposal from a Hungarian government delegate at one of the panel’s meetings, the MSZP politician pointed out. At the press conference, the Socialist MEP explained that they had asked to see the minutes of the committee’s meetings, and they prove that the Fidesz government’s delegate had not once raised the issue of travel restrictions for Hungarians vaccinated with Eastern vaccines.
“Gergely Gulyás said at a recent government info session that the government delegate must have done everything he could on the matter and that he would look into the details. And pertaining to this case Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said: ‘we are literally lobbying on the matter’; Like hell you do! Not only have they not lobbied, but they are not even able to give us any answers on the matter, nor will they tell us who the government representative on this committee is. The government is lying and does not even realize the hardship that its decisions have caused hundreds of thousands of Hungarians. Fidesz is apparently only interested in political and financial gain in the management of the epidemic”; István Ujhelyi said.
MSZP’s European politician stressed that the EU is currently in the process of renegotiating the European covid-pass framework, so this will be an opportunity for the government to take substantive action, if they failed to do so thus far. Ujhelyi added that, as an MEP, he is in permanent consultation with the European Commission and will table the necessary amendments during the parliamentary process to ensure that the situation is handled in a reassuring way.

Budapest/Brussels – 18.01.2022.

Ujhelyi asks Brussels for accounting records of Hungarian EU-money for free covid-tests

Standard

epf másolatSince the Hungarian government has not responded to his inquiry, István Ujhelyi is now asking the European Commission for the accounting records of the EU funding provided for free covid tests, as he believes that the use of the HUF 900 million budget is highly suspicious of corruption. This was announced by the MEP of MSZP-Dialogue in his online press conference, which was held in house quarantine due to covid infection.

Ujhelyi said it was stomach-churning that people and business circles linked to Fidesz had demonstrably profited from the purchase of equipment linked to the epidemic, and that this could also affect the HUF 900 million EU budget that the European Union granted the Hungarian government last year for the purchase of tests, although no information is yet available on the exact use of the money.
Ujhelyi said that almost a week ago he turned to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to find out exactly how and to whom free or reduced-price covid tests were provided from the non-reimbursable budget, which Ujhelyi, among others, had initiated in the European Parliament. The MSZP politician pointed out that the HUF 900 million package for Hungary as part of the €100 million overall framework would have provided a reduced-rate test last year to Hungarians who had to travel for work, study, commuting or other personal reasons, but were obliged to take the test because of restrictions.
Because of the flat-rate amount set by the European Commission, this could have affected hundreds of thousands of people, but as Ujhelyi pointed out, there is no real sign of this option in government communications. The MSZP politician said that since the government had failed to respond to his request in this regard, he would now turn to the European Commission to obtain the accounting records submitted by Hungary, which in principle should have been sent to Brussels in November last year. Ujhelyi stressed that if it turns out that business circles close to Fidesz have been profiting from this budget, he will also file the necessary report with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).
A significant part of the population has suffered because of covid; many people have lost their loved ones and their livelihoods because of the epidemic, while Fidesz, entirely ignoring opposition criticism, has done nothing apart from making political and economic profit”, the MSZP MEP said.
Ujhelyi recalled that in September 2020, the public interest data he requested revealed that the government had first purchased covid tests worth HUF 9.6 billion, but even then there were some suppliers that were mainly engaged in real estate sales or had appeared in Azeri cases important to the Orbán government.
The Socialist politician also said at the press conference that Lőrinc Mészáros is also known to have interests in at least two companies, in one of them together with a local Fidesz-representative from Hévíz, that have recently recorded billions in sales, thanks in part to their booming covid-testing service. Referring to information published in the press, Ujhelyi also mentioned a company originally providing Thai massage services, which in a short time has become a nearly HUF 2 billion business thanks to a contract with the National Hospital Directorate General for antigen tests, and in which a former Fidesz MP and former state secretary was also involved.
At the same time, Ujhelyi called the deal involving the former Fidesz parliamentary group leader of Ferencváros the “most brazen and vile, suggestive of serious corruption”, in this case the National Hospital Directorate General ordered rapid tests worth HUF 3.1 billion from a company that the ruling party politician had only founded in the months before the contract was signed. Moreover, as a further detail of the peculiar business, the MEP added that the Fidesz politician quickly sold the company to a young man in his twenties living in a village in Borsod after the deal. According to Ujhelyi, the question is therefore whether any of the HUF 900 million budget frame he initiated and made available to Hungary ended up in Fidesz’s circles through similar deals. The MSZP MEP made it clear that if need be, he would sue for the necessary data in EU and Hungarian courts.

Budapest/Brussels – 12.01.2022.