Why did family of head of Russian intelligence get golden visa from Fidesz?!

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visasOver a week ago, I sent a letter to the relevant ministries of the Orbán government, the Prime Minister and the Government Spokesperson, but so far none of them have managed to answer the very simple question: why did the relatives of the head of foreign intelligence in the Russian government led by Putin receive golden visas from Fidesz?

In fact, this is not only a simple question, but also a very pressing one in our current situation. What other interconnections and, in the current climate, what other cooperation between Putin’s inner circles and the Hungarian Government pose a serious risk to our national security? To guarantee Hungary’s peace and security, this must be clarified as soon as possible! Enough of Fidesz’s sneaky deals! I demand detailed information on this as urgently as possible! As a result of Russian aggression, the European Union has already adopted a number of sanctions together with the leaders of the Member States, thus with the agreement and support of the Hungarian Government. Among other things, sanctions have been imposed on high-ranking Russian leaders, including visa bans and asset freezes. Such leaders include, for example, Sergei Naryshkin, the Speaker of the Russian Duma, who has also been in charge of the Foreign Intelligence Service since 2016. It is known that Naryshkin, who has been on the EU’s ‘blacklist’ since the start of the years-long crisis in Ukraine, is involved in, and even actively directing, the current Russian military aggression and the disinformation and other intelligence operations surrounding it.
Earlier, there were numerous reports that Sergei Naryshkin’s relatives (his son Andrei and his daughter-in-law and grandchildren) had bought for themselves quite a few residency bonds, the so-called ‘golden visas’, announced by the Fidesz government, and had thus obtained Hungarian (i.e. EU) papers. The Hungarian Immigration Office has previously admitted that Andrei Naryshkin was their client, but the details of the case remain unclear. The Fidesz government must immediately provide meaningful answers as to why the documents previously issued under the residency bond programme, which were given to persons linked to the current war-aggressor Russian leadership, have not been reviewed! The Fidesz government must immediately give an answer as to when it will revoke or suspend these permits as part of the common EU sanctions policy! The Fidesz government must immediately provide an answer as to exactly how many individuals who are in any way connected to the current Russian state leadership have been ‘clients’ of the Hungarian government’s resettlement programme! The Fidesz government must immediately answer whether there is any national security risk posed by the fact that close relatives of one of the state leaders in charge of the Russian military aggression were ‘clients’ of the Hungarian government’s residency bond programme! However, the Hungarian government is not only accountable to the public for the golden visas issued under the residency bond programme; they must also answer the question: why do they not suspend the full diplomatic immunity (originally already granted in a completely unjustifiable manner) of the leadership and staff of the Budapest-based International Investment Bank with Russian interests (also linked to espionage activities)?
Viktor Orbán and Fidesz talk about national sovereignty and independence, about representing national interests against the European Union, while they refuse to use any means at their disposal to take action against the Russian aggressors; in fact, they secretly ally and cooperate with them and even open loopholes for them. The question arises: when he talks about stopping Brussels, who is really dictating Orbán’s words? Certainly not the Hungarian people. This, especially in the present situation, is completely unacceptable and life-threatening! Enough of Orbán and Fidesz’s sneaky, Putinist dealings! They must answer the questions and come clean! If they can, that is.

István Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament
27 March, 2022.

S&D-research: one in five Fidesz-voters would leave the EU

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Képernyőfotó 2022-03-22 - 10.00.24Publicus Institute, commissioned by the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats (S&D) and Hungarian MEP István Ujhelyi, measured the public opinion towards the European Union by surveying 2006 individuals in a nationwide representative poll conducted between the 3rd and the 14th of February 2022. 

According to the vast majority of respondents, membership in the European Union is rather advantageous for Hungary. If a referendum were held this Sunday on whether the country should join the EU now, 86 percent of respondents would vote in favor. Fidesz voters have the most resentments against the EU: for instance, if a referendum were held this Sunday on whether Hungary should leave the EU, one in five pro-government voters would vote in favor.  The idea that Orbán wants a “Huxit” often arises in Hungarian public consciousness. There are more respondents who think the prime minister wants to leave the EU than the ones who think he does not (48 vs. 43 percent). Every other respondent considers it conceivable that Hungary may be excluded from the European Union, regardless of Hungary’s intention, because the country’s current actions do not meet the conditions of the EU. Regarding the European Union, eight out of ten respondents attach great importance to peace and cooperation among Member States, as well as to the rule of law.
Three-quarters of respondents consider economic benefits to be a very important value for Member States, while seven out of ten respondents think the same about the free movement of labor, and two-thirds of respondents about the abolition of borders and free movement. Almost every second respondent considers the most important of the European Union’s values to be peace and cooperation among Member States. One in four respondents mentioned the security of the rule of law. One in two respondents says that the rule of law is currently in the greatest danger of European values in Hungary.
Six out of ten respondents rather not believe that the EU wants to bring millions of migrants to Europe as a solution to demographic problems. The same share of respondents also rather consider it untrue that Hungary does not have access to the recovery funds because Brussels does not accept the government’s resistance to allowing LGBTQ activists into Hungarian kindergartens and schools to promote sex reassignment surgeries there. Three-quarters of respondents rather consider it true that Hungary does not have access to the recovery funds due to problems with the rule of law and state-level corruption. Eight out of ten respondents have heard that the European Commission has imparted to the Hungarian government in a written list: due to the dismantling of the rule of law and state- level corruption, the country is not yet able to access its resources.
Two-thirds of respondents think that if a Hungarian MEP supports the withholding of EU funds because of problems with the rule of law and corruption, he is actually acting against the corrupt government in the interests of his country. Seven out of ten respondents would rather give the European Union a greater power in the fight against corruption, the fight against terrorism and in climate policy than the current Hungarian competence. Two-thirds of respondents say the same in the case of the rule of law, and six in ten respondents would rather give more rights for the EU in healthcare and education. Three quarters of respondents would support European coordination in healthcare, in other words the creation of a European Health Union.
Eight out of ten respondents say it is important for European citizens to have a direct say in European processes. One third of respondents have heard about the Conference on the Future of Europe, where every EU citizen can write down their opinions so that a number of issues about the future of the EU can be decided according to the view of its citizens. The majority considers it possible to attend such a conference to share their views. Six out of ten respondents rather disagree that the European Parliament, where the citizens’ elected representatives decide, should be abolished and that the European Council, which brings together prime ministers, should decide on more issues than at present.

Full research available here: https://bit.ly/3ufiEYV 

Brussels/Budapest – 22.03.2022.

Ujhelyi files criminal complaint against EMMI for misuse of data of public interest

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_LEZ5419“That’s it, enough! Today, I am filing a criminal complaint against unknown perpetrators for the serial misuse of data of public interest by the Fidesz government, more specifically the Ministry of Human Capacities,” announced Socialist MEP and member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Public Health István Ujhelyi at an online press conference on Wednesday.

Referring to the chorus of the opposition alliance’s campaign song, the MSZP politician said “the power belongs to the people,” just as information and data of public interest belong to the people, and therefore the government cannot withhold them. According to Ujhelyi, the Fidesz government is “making a habit” out of not allowing journalists, civil and professional organizations, or even elected representatives to access certain data of public interest, and the Ministry of Human Capacities is leading the way in this respect.
At the press conference, István Ujhelyi recalled that in the past period he had turned to the government on a number of issues (primarily in connection with data related to epidemic management or professional programmes), but in the vast majority of cases the competent ministries refused to release data of public interest.
MSZP’s European politician pointed out that in January this year, the National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (NAIH) had already conducted an investigation at his initiative into the refusal to provide data of public interest on the circumstances of the acquisition of covid vaccines, as a result of which the state authority had censured the EMMI and called on it to provide the requested data, but the ministry has not done so since then.
Ujhelyi added that one of his most recent requests for data concerned the vaccination statistics, from which Minister of Human Capacities Miklós Kásler quoted some excerpts during a radio interview, but refused to disclose it in full with the socialist politician. He added that he had been trying to obtain the vaccination statistics for months, but the government has so far refused to say clearly who is in charge of managing the relevant data. “It is outrageous how the government and its servants treat the public interest and their own duty,” Ujhelyi remarked.
At the press conference, the MSZP MEP said that he decided to file a criminal complaint because the EMMI (Ministry of Human Capacities) had recently refused to give the politician access to the National Cancer Control Programme, saying it was a “document for preparing decisions.” According to Ujhelyi, the professional disclosure of the relevant material would be of the utmost importance because the European Union is currently in the process of developing and expanding its anti-cancer plan, which is one of the most important pillars of the European Health Union, which he initiated.
According to the MSZP politician, elements important to Hungarians can only be successfully incorporated into the European cancer strategy if the government material relating to it is accessible to the public; however, even as a member of the EP’s responsible committee, he is denied access to the documents. He pointed out that, most recently, with the legal help of the Hungarian Association for the Protection of Human Rights (TASZ), Háttér Society recently won a lawsuit against EMMI in the Budapest Municipal Court, which ordered the Ministry to release the requested health programmes (including the National Cancer Control Programme), which has not yet happened. “I am convinced that the government, led by EMMI, is knowingly and unlawfully withholding data of public interest. Enough is really enough! They think they can get away with anything.
Although they are only in power for a few more weeks, we must show that neither the current government nor the next one can abuse its power. That is why I am filing a criminal complaint under the relevant sections of the Criminal Code,” István Ujhelyi concluded at his press conference.

Budapest/Brussels – 16.03.2022.

Russian contracts of Debrecen vaccine plant must be cancelled! 

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vaccputOnly a few days before the launch of the deadly Russian military aggression, Viktor Orbán visited Moscow yet again and although he described the visit as a kind of peace mission, we can clearly see that he achieved nothing in this area. In fact, precisely because of the unilateral Russian aggression that has taken place since then, the outcome of the economic and cooperation agreements that were formulated after the meeting has become highly questionable.

One such announcement at the Moscow briefing of Orbán and his ally Vladimir Putin was that Russia would make the technology for the production of the Sputnik V vaccine available to the vaccine plant being built in Debrecen, so that mass production of the Russian vaccine in the Hajdúság region could soon begin. Orbán was so thrilled about this that he subsequently boasted on state radio that the demand for Sputnik in the world was so great that the Russians could no longer meet the orders, so the production line in Debrecen was not at all a bad business investment, either.
However, the fact of the matter is that since the Russians have been unable to obtain European approval for the Sputnik V vaccine due to their failure to submit the required documentation, demand for the vaccine has not been outstanding at all; perhaps it is enough to recall that even the Hungarian government has not ordered any supplies in addition to the original shipment, since, with the mass supply of European vaccines around, Hungarians would not have it at all. Since then, the spread of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, the escalation of the Russian military intervention and the ever-growing range of Western sanctions have only made matters worse: without any particular foresight or analytical routine, it can be predicted that there will be even lower demand for a vaccine that is not licensed in Europe and is offered by the Russian state, hallmarked by Putin, and that it will only ‘burn the hand’ of whoever holds it. The best thing the Hungarian Government could do in this situation would be to terminate its cooperation with the Putin-led government on Russian vaccines in line with European sanctions and use the capacities of the vaccine production plant under construction in Debrecen to produce Western-type vaccines authorized by the EMA.
Nothing explains this kind of bigoted insistence on the Russian vaccine, its production in Hungary and its distribution by us, except the fact that Fidesz’s top leaders have a private interest in the project. This investment and vaccine production contract with the Russians in this situation only benefits those who have a vested interest in the business. And make no mistake: Fidesz has already proven that it can profiteer shamelessly even on an epidemic that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarians: it is worth remembering how a prominent member of the governing party in the capital city of Hungary raked in billions on the state delivery of COVID-tests, only to sell the company after taking the commission to a teenager registered in a dead end village in Borsod county. There is no way that some Fidesz leaders did not benefit from this deal, or at least would not have known about it, since without government backing this Fidesz politician’s company could not have received the billion-forint order for state procurement.
This is why the vaccine production plant project in Hajdúság is also suspicious. The vaccine plant in Debrecen is not only under the dark shadow of Putin, but also smell of corruption. We already know that billions of public money have been reallocated to set up the facility, the final bill for which is expected to be somewhere over 50 billion. I have previously submitted a public interest request to several government ministries to find out the details of the investment, the exact background to the funding (e.g. whether EU money will be used to set it up, and what institutional control the plant will have), but I also wanted to know exactly what the contracts with Chinese and Russian partners for the production of vaccines contain. Most of the ministries I contacted refused to comment, and the responsible Ministry of Innovation told me that the information I had requested was classified and therefore not subject to public disclosure. Typical Fidesz sneakiness. I demand that the government immediately cancel its contract with the Russian state for the production of Sputnik V vaccines. I demand that the government use the production capacity planned for Debrecen for the production of vaccines licensed by the European Medicines Agency! I demand that the government put an end to the unjustified and massively suspicious secrecy surrounding the investment in the national vaccine production plant: make public the documents and contracts concluded in connection with the project, and account for the public money spent on it so far! If the Orbán government really cares about peace and the unity of the European Community, it should review these contracts and, acting on common sense, terminate the agreements as quickly as possible.

dr. István Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament
20 March, 2022.

Orbán Must Break with Putin’s Political Mafia!

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275568355_511541373664361_9170018770663318565_nOne was overcome with a strong sense of vicarious embarrassment just watching a video on a news portal of Fidesz luminaries and petty figures, all confused by journalists’ questions, trying to flip-flop and distance themselves from Putin with sentences following the pattern of “on the hand and on the other,” while at the same time denying the peculiar Kremlin-friendliness of the past twelve years.

It was difficult for them, because they had trained themselves and their followers to believe that Putin is nice, Putin is good, Putin is our friend. Well, no, he isn’t. Not in the least.
However, Fidesz is so far only a militant pro-peace party and an active participant in joint European action against the Russian aggressor in honeyed words and phrases written on billboards, because when it comes to action, Fideszers tend to walk away with their tails between their legs.
I understand that it is difficult to meet the demands of the illiberal mafia and simple human and moral requirements at the same time. If Viktor Orbán were really serious that, after some detours to Moscow, he has found his way back to European values and the unity of the Union, he would also prove it with tangible, credible decisions. He could start by suspending the diplomatic immunity of the Russian ‘spy bank’, by freezing cooperation with Rosatom, or by reviewing the residency bonds of people linked to senior Kremlin officials, such as the family members of the head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, Sergey Naryshkin, who was involved in the operation of the war in Ukraine.
But Orbán could also start with something simpler to demonstrate his commitment to Europe. For example, by breaking off all formal and informal ties with political forces that are not only superficially but also formally cooperating with Putin’s party in Russia.
It is time, for example, for Viktor Orbán to say publicly that, as the leader of Fidesz, he will break off all friendly and political ties with Matteo Salvini and the Northern League, which he leads and which signed an actual formal cooperation agreement with Putin in Moscow in 2017. Fidesz could also make a clear and unequivocal break with Marine Le Pen and her National Rally party, as Le Pen’s party has received concrete financial support from Putin in the past (as, unusually, MKB, a bank owned by Lőrinc Mészáros, has just given them a 10 million euro campaign loan), but the French party has such close ties with the Kremlin that one of Le Pen’s MEPs, for example, employed the daughter of Putin’s spokesperson as an intern in Brussels. Orbán could also publicly terminate Fidesz’s relations with the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), whose former president, Heinz-Christian Strache, forced to resign because of a scandal, was received and presented as an important political ally in a spectacular setting.
Well, although the FPÖ has not (since Strache’s downfall) extended its formal cooperation with Putin’s party, it was still an important part of the framework agreement with the United Russia party under Strache. Once you are part of Putin’s political mafia, they don’t just  let you walk away.
No matter how much Orbán and Fidesz try to shake off the excessive Putin-friendliness and entanglement of the last twelve years with the European far-right political actors financed and obviously largely controlled by the Kremlin, this is no longer possible with words and flip-flopping dance moves.
If Orbán and Fidesz really want to belong to Europe and act as defenders of European values, they must take substantive action against the Russian aggressor and visibly and clearly disassociate Fidesz from the political actors operating in Putin’s dark shadow. In recent months, Orbán has been trying to build a far-right, EU-sceptic new party coalition with, among others, the above-mentioned actors, but his plan has failed thus far. Now it is time to put this plan in the drawer for good and make a clear break with his current allies. If he does not, he will confirm that he is still part of the political mafia system of Putin who started the war, and that he has no intention of leaving it. It is as simple as that.

István Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament
13 March, 2022.

István Ujhelyi nominated again for MEP Award!

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PZ__0081MEP István Ujhelyi has been nominated for the MEP Awards for the third time, according to the list of nominees published today by the organizers.

The prestigious award is announced and presented every year by The Parliament Magazine, a bi-weekly Brussels-based magazine on EU politics, and was cancelled last time only due to the covid pandemic. Politicians compete in several categories and they can be nominated by individuals, MEPs, interest groups and NGOs.
From the thousands of nominations received, an independent, professional jury will finally select four MEPs in each category, based mainly on who nominated them and how many nominations they got, and the real reasons and work that supports their nomination. Then, from the shortlisted candidates, the final winners are selected on the basis of the MEPs’ votes.
This year, István Ujhelyi has been short-listed for the third time; in 2017 he won the prestigious award once, in the transport category. The MSZP MEP was named one of the three finalists in the “Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism” category, mainly in recognition of his pioneering work in implementing and developing the free InterRail ticket scheme and his work as Vice-Chair of the EP’s TRAN Committee responsible for the tourism sector, which was hit hardest by the covid epidemic.
As other statements published on social media platforms have revealed: in the health category, Ujhelyi was also nominated as MEP of the Year by a number of advocacy and civil society organizations (such as the Standing Committee of European Doctors, the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists and the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine) for his role in the creation of the European Health Union, but this year the jury ultimately selected him as a finalist in the aforementioned “Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism” category.
Following the announcement, István Ujhelyi said that it was a great honour for him to be a finalist in the MEP of the Year selection for the third time (this time as the only Hungarian), especially as he was the only Hungarian to win the award in 2017. “Just being one of the final four in the professional category means a lot to me, as it required nominations from numerous NGOs, professional organizations and European citizens, which are the most important confirmation of the effectiveness of my work in Brussels.
I am proud that I have managed to put on the table a number of pioneering programmes representing Hungarian people, such as the European Health Union, the free InterRail ticket programme, or initiatives that strengthen cooperation between professional tourism organizations and finally bring the sector to the attention of Europe,” said István Ujhelyi.
The winners of the MEP Awards 2022 will be announced at an award ceremony in Brussels at the end of June.

Budapest/Brussels – 09.03.2022.

We shall not shut off the valves, but we shall not be a colony either!

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PZ__0108We need straightforward and honest discourse on the sanctions already imposed and likely to be imposed on Russia for its violent aggression. The pro-Putin Fidesz propaganda claims that the opposition side wants to shut off the gas supplies from Russia. This is vile and criminal dissemination of fake news.
Putin’s war must be opposed by all reasonable and effective means to push for peace as soon as possible. However, we should only jump into deep water once we have learned to swim. That is why it would be irresponsible to impose a complete ban on natural gas imports from Russia without adequate guarantees, or, as Fidesz puts it, to ‘shut off the valves.’ No one wants that and no one can possibly opt for it without the necessary preparatory measures.
For the last twelve years, Viktor Orbán and his money-hungry mafia state have sought Putin’s favour and interests in everything, and now, too, they much less concerned about the vulnerability and peace of Hungarian people than the uncertainties around their individual business deals with the Putin regime.
In Hungary, the share of renewable energy sources has increased almost nothing during the last decade of Fidesz rule. Even in the course of twelve years of a two-thirds mandate, Orbán and his party have done nothing to reduce our dependence on Russian energy, promote sustainable energy sources or effectively increase energy efficiency. Therefore, any energy crisis that our country is facing is the sole responsibility of Fidesz, both directly and indirectly.
The European Commission is preparing to make substantive proposals among others to diversify, i.e. share the risk of natural gas imports into Europe, attract new reliable partners, invest massively in energy security and increase energy efficiency. We shall not be a Russian colony; we shall no longer be at the mercy of a belligerent aggressor!
At the same time, I firmly maintain that substantial reduction or a ban on imports of natural gas from Russia can only be supported if we have created adequate guarantees for its substitution with alternatives. Obviously, the interests of Hungarian citizens are our top priority, but we must also be aware that from now on, every single forint we pay for Russian products is in fact also a means of financing Putin’s bloody aggression. We must therefore respond to the current war and threat with strong and effective action but in a responsible way that also safeguards our long-term interests. That is why all the lies told by the Fidesz in this connection only weaken our positions and unwittingly support Putin’s war purely for daily political gain.

MEP István Ujhelyi
(MSZP-Párbeszéd)
Budapest-Brussels / 7.3.2022.

Hungary only country to stay out of EU-programme to help Ukraine?

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liarI really hope that this is just an administrative error and that it is wrongly stated in the official communications, because if it is true that Hungary is the only country excluding itself from the European voluntary programme to help Ukraine, then Orbán and his mates are once again putting the whole nation on the world’s wall of shame. And Hungarians do not deserve that at all.
As is known, almost immediately after the Russian aggression against Ukraine, the so-called EU Civil Protection Mechanism, which has been in operation in the European Community since 2001, was activated as a matter of urgency. This cooperation and coordination tool can provide effective assistance in the event of natural and humanitarian disasters: all EU Member States and six other non-EU countries, including Iceland, Norway, Serbia, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro and Turkey, participate in the programme.
In recent years, this mechanism has been activated in more than 500 cases, for example, when Member States received masks, medical gloves and ventilators during the covid pandemic. In the wake of the murderous attack on Ukraine, the European Commission called on Member States to make voluntary donations within their means to help tackle the crisis. 26 EU Member States and 1 non-EU nation have joined the programme, offering blankets, food and other supplies. Hungary is the only EU country not yet included among the participating and donating countries. It is not clear why as of yet.
It would be outrageous if now too the Orbán government were to try to mess with Brussels as some lonesome maverick, since millions of lives are at stake. If it is not merely a case of administrative delay or some other acceptable reason, then by staying out of this Fidesz once again proves its immense inhumanity and vileness. (Perhaps the government has confused this humanitarian cooperation with the rescEU programme, under which the Hungarian state has just sent Ukraine 200 overpriced ventilators, which generate extra income for Fidesz; this is, however, a completely separate programme.)
But, of course, what can we expect from Fidesz, whose prime minister is able to look the Hungarian people in the eye and keep on lying even amidst a war that has killed thousands of people?! Viktor Orbán said in his latest radio statement that NATO will not defend us unless we can defend ourselves. In other words, whoever attacks us, the alliance will not come to our aid, and our membership of NATO is worthless.
Interestingly, a few days ago, in another statement on public television, he said that Hungary’s security can only be guaranteed within the NATO alliance. Let us leave aside the fact for now that it is the government propaganda trumpeting the need for ‘strategic calm’ and ‘calm talk’, while Orbán is apparently rambling on and on, and the Fidesz leaders are trying to shake off ten years of warm and friendly pro-Russian statements with similarly confused phrases.
But Orbán’s statement on NATO is much more serious though: his confirmation as head of government that we will never be protected by the Euro-Atlantic military alliance is, in fact, an invitation to the dance. So, while lying that the opposition wants to drag our country into a war of the Russians, the Prime Minister is saying in public that we will never have one of the world’s most powerful, unified armies behind us. When not far from the Hungarian border, Russian tanks are marching on, is this not insanely irresponsible?
Moreover, Orbán has once again pulled out his old lies, when he said that the European Union had not given Hungary any support to deal with the refugee situation, and that we had not received “a single cent” from Brussels for the protection of the southern border. This is a massive, blatant lie, which is easy to refute, as since 2015 the European Commission has provided the Hungarian government with a total of around €137.14 million, or roughly HUF 45.5 billion, to cover the costs of immigration and border protection. It is quantifiable, traceable and accountable.
I understand that Fidesz party members, who grew lardy on the public purse, do not even notice a HUF 45.5 billion sum of ‘small change’ that just drops in from Brussels, but at least they should not lie about it and use it to agitate Hungarian society. It is a shame and a disgrace that Fidesz can only lie and steal in times of epidemics and war. They deserve to be chased away in April.

István Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament
6 March, 2022.

Survey: Two-thirds of Hungarians Say Orbán Damages European Unity by Serving Interests of Russian President

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public2A representative opinion poll focussing primarily on the assessment of Hungary’s foreign policy was commissioned by MEP István Ujhelyi and conducted before the armed Russian aggression started, but already in the context of the tense Russian-Ukrainian situation.
The results of the nationwide survey, conducted by Publicus Institute in the first weeks of February and involving around 2,000 people, showed that two-thirds (67%) of Hungarians tend to agree with the statement that Viktor Orbán and his government are damaging European unity by serving the interests of Russian President Putin, thus jeopardizing the security of Europe and Hungary. It has been confirmed that the pro-Russian propaganda deliberately built up by the government in recent years has had an impact primarily on Fidesz supporters: barely 11% of pro-government voters believe that Orbán’s policies serve Putin’s interests, against 88% on the opposition side.
Equally revealing is the fact that a substantial majority of respondents (53%) believe that the Hungarian government’s foreign policy serves Russia’s interests first and foremost and only minimally takes into account the interests of the European Community. According to the comprehensive survey, nearly one in two respondents consider peace and cooperation between Member States to be the most important of the European Union’s core values, but the issue of security of the rule of law was also of paramount importance to one in four respondents.
The Publicus survey also revealed that despite the government’s on-going efforts and propaganda to build alliances with the East, eight out of ten respondents believe that Hungary traditionally belongs to the West in terms of values and should therefore continue to strive towards the West. Interestingly, 40 per cent of respondents who say they support Fidesz think the opposite and would prefer Hungary to move eastwards, as opposed to just 17 per cent of those who are undecided.
Related to this is the finding that just 12 per cent of respondents in Hungary, in line with the government’s policy so far, think that Hungary should move closer to Russia rather than the European Union and the United States. In this respect, the Fidesz camp was again more permissive: 23 per cent of those who support the government think that Hungary should move away from the EU and move closer to Moscow instead.
It is worth noting that the smaller the settlements surveyed, the higher this figure was. The question on Hungary’s membership of NATO and the security provided by cooperation with NATO was much clearer, with 88% of respondents in favour: not a single respondent in the MSZP-Dialogue alliance was opposed to our membership of NATO, while in the Fidesz camp the figure was 11% at the time of the survey.
Commenting on the results of the survey, MEP István Ujhelyi said that the data recorded in the days before the Russian invasion had already started to make it clear that Fidesz had been successful in sensitizing its own camp and its supporters in favour of accepting Putin’s regime and against the European Union. “Despite all the sweaty flip-flop, the deliberate propaganda campaign of recent years has had a clear result: those who vote for Orbán vote for Putinism. Anyone who supports Fidesz is much more oriented to the East and despises the values of the European Union than anyone who is critical or oppositional to the current governing parties. These data only further clarified the stakes of the April elections: Orbanistan or Europe, Orbán and Putin or Europe and security. It is between these that we must choose,” István Ujhelyi concluded.

The full survey can be read HERE.

Budapest/Brussels – 05.03.2022.

“Spine-Cracking Déjà Vu”

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vaslevélzászlókjpgAs a committed pacifist and a father of six, I tend to follow the events in Ukraine with a splitting sense of helplessness: while glued to the news, one moment my fist clenches into action, the next the same hand is more likely to hold my children close to reassure them that everything will be alright. But there is trouble, indeed. And not just in Ukraine. Also in the minds of many, unfortunately.
Putin’s attack can be called nothing less than a war crime; an aggression of bloodshed against a sovereign state, launched without any real justification. There is no other point of view, no other perspective, no economic interest that requires us to be more cautious with our words. You don’t sit an obvious aggressor down to the nicely laid table of a family dinner just because he was the one to bring the bacon on the cheap. Just like we don’t let an axe murderer go free in exchange for some well-paying (private) business.
There are situations where the question of choosing sides and values simply does not arise. Putin’s war is exactly that. And the dilemmas that have been troubling me over the past few hours show exactly how Orbán has steered our country into an infinitely vulnerable and weakened position. Let us start from the fact that the Hungarian Government has, on at least half a dozen occasions in recent times, obstructed Ukraine’s move closer to NATO, which would provide protection to it; the Orbán-government was the only one to veto this attempt each and every time. The language law and the otherwise legitimate protection of the interests of the ethnic Hungarians in Transcarpathia were cited, but Russian interests were also known to be served by these moves.
Just one digression: in the past, Fidesz MEPs have repeatedly called for firm EU action and compliance with the Venice Commission’s guidelines on the language law, which violates the rights of ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine; the only problem is that it is precisely Fidesz’s brainless policy that has weakened these demands, as it has constantly undermined the credibility of the EU, and called the Venice Commission  repeatedly an ‘organization of Soros-agents’ when it has published positions that Orbán and his pals did not like. If Fidesz had spent the last decade working to strengthen the European Union rather than weaken it, it would clearly have been able to act much more effectively and, as such, would have achieved results.
The Ukrainian-Russian war has proved once and for all that Hungary’s place is in the European Union and in the NATO alliance: only this can guarantee our security. Therefore, anyone who works to weaken the EU or NATO in any way obstructs its functioning and shatters its unity and works against the security of Hungary and the Hungarian people. It is no coincidence that Orbán, after the initial flip-flop, was forced to get his act together and stick to European unity, because if he had once again rebelliously stood up for Russian interests (as he has done more than once), he would have betrayed not only Hungary, but the whole of Europe and the EU-Atlantic alliance. This is not a game anymore, not in the least. At the same time, it is useless for the Prime Minister to post likebait posts in support of sanctions against Russia if he apparently no longer dares to use the other means at his disposal. You have to wonder why, though. If he is truly committed to enforcing peace and curbing Russian aggression (although he has never phrased the latter so strongly), he would, for example, immediately review the Paks2 project and suspend the diplomatic immunity of the Russian (spy)bank in Budapest with immediate effect. These would be substantive and significant steps, clear evidence that the Hungarian government is serious when it advocates a united European position.
In recent days, the debate on possible support for the unjustifiably attacked Ukraine has gone astray and has devolved into governmental, lying propaganda. Fidesz has used this situation for its own political ends in the most despicable way possible, and is trying to plant the lie in the minds of the Hungarian public that the opposition would send soldiers and weapons into Ukrainian territory, thus ‘dragging our country’ into war. Fidesz, which has been running its most vile campaign in the last ten years, and has already demonstrated with several examples that it is capable of creating false statements by mutilating the statements of opposition candidates, distorting their meaning and significance. This has happened again: nobody wants war, certainly not with Hungarian participation. The only one who wants war at the moment is Viktor Orbán’s friend and ally, Vladimir Putin, who, let us not forget, has the support of Viktor Orbán’s other friend and ally, Lukashenka of Belarus. The voices of the opposition side have always been clear and direct: as a member of the NATO alliance, we, too, must act along the lines of its decisions and actions. How utterly disgusting, by the way, that it is precisely those politicians and paid whistleblowers who are spreading this lie, who have otherwise been trembling in their efforts to serve Russian propaganda and deny the fact of the expected attack until the last moment. The nobodies who are now posting about ‘staying out of it’ are the same nobodies who used to make wimpy jokes about statements fearing Russian invasion. And yes, it is the same nobodies posting about how this is “a Russian internal affair” and how it is “none of our business”, who take selfies as true Hungarians at the so-called peace rally of Fidesz, but now forget that the Russian tanks are rattling where our Hungarian brothers and sisters who have been torn away actually live. Well, when would we have more to do with this war, if not now, you wretches?! I understand that it must be damn difficult to simultaneously cheer Salvini in a Putin T-shirt and organize a fundraiser to help Hungarians fleeing from Putin. I understand that it must be damn difficult to self-identify – unsolicited and falsely – as the spiritual heirs of the brave heroes of ’56, while watching Putin’s tanks, glorified in accordance with government propaganda, rampaging through the streets of Ukraine. Spine-cracking déjà vu.
Viktor Orbán said at Astoria in 2007 that “the historic challenge for the Western world is the growing forces of the new order in the East, whose breath, presence and radiance we can already feel on our skin (…)” If Ukraine were a member of the EU or NATO, we could do more to counter the belligerent aggression against it. But we must avoid at all costs that this conflict crosses new physical borders. As a member of the European Union and NATO, we must therefore use all the means available to us collectively and individually to force the aggressor to stop the bloodshed and the war. Self-justifying Fidesz advertising posters and Facebook videos will not stop Putin, united and decisive action might. There is less of the latter on the government side so far. In April, we will have to decide what kind of Hungary we want: one that flip-flops its way into the grip of aggressor superpowers, or one that defends the interests of its citizens and the EU as a reliable member of a united, strong and secure European community. Orbanistan or Europe? That will be the question. The events of the last few days have made it even clearer that there is only one sane and wise answer to this.

István Ujhelyi MEP
Member of the European Parliament
27 February, 2022.