Prime Minister Viktor Orbán consulted with the heads of the parliamentary parties prior to this week’s EU summit, but the opposition politicians in attendance are not permitted to talk about what was said at the closed session, and Orbán’s press chief is not talking either. The opposition leaders took the opportunity to ask the Prime Minister about a range of issues at the meeting: the war in Ukraine, inflation, Paks II, and EU funds.
Orbán discussed the Hungarian position that he intends to represent at the summit of European heads of state and government on March 24-25, which will also be attended by US President Joe Biden. But other issues of a domestic political nature were also brought up at the Prime Minister’s closed-door meeting with the heads of other parliamentary parties.
Because of the secretive nature of the meeting, opposition politicians who held a press conference after the meeting were not able, under threat of penalty by Speaker of Parliament László Kövér, to talk about what they had discussed with Orbán. But they were able to say that they took advantage of the opportunity of an open meeting with the Prime Minister to ask him about a number of issues, and shared what they asked him about.
While the war in Ukraine will be the chief topic among the issues to be discussed at the EU summit, the opposition asked Prime Minister Orbán about a range of domestic political issues.
Gergely Arató, the deputy leader of the Democratic Coalition parliamentary caucus, said that one of these was whether EU funds would be used to raise teachers’ salaries, as well as the status of the EU Rehabilitation Fund, which the government says is being delayed due to the “child protection” law. Brussels, however, claims the delay has more to do with concerns around corruption in Hungary.
Dialogue MP Tímea Szabó said they had pointed out to Viktor Orbán that “families, who allegedly Orbán and the government have been assisting for twelve years, are getting financially ruined because food prices are rising significantly while the government is not waging a ‘freedom fight’ against inflation.”
MSZP politician Zita Gurmai (pictured, speaking) said that their expectations were for Orbán to put his faith in European co-operation at the summit, for the European Council to “strengthen Ukraine’s capabilities for self-defense,” and for the Hungarian government to “end its smear campaign against the EU.”
Jobbik’s Brenner Koloman noted that Viktor Orbán had not gone to the extraordinary parliamentary session called by the opposition on March 10, which failed to reach decision-making quota because of the absence of Fidesz-KDNP MPs. At the private meeting with opposition leaders, the Hungarian Prime Minister was asked why he did not accompany the Czech, Polish, and Slovenian prime ministers on their joint visit to Kyiv last week.
Péter Ungár from LMP asked Fidesz to stop “its hideous lying that the Paks II nuclear power plant expansion project will affect energy prices, as it hasn’t even been built yet.”
HVG asked Bertalan Havasi, the Prime Minister’s press chief, about what was discussed at the meeting, but the news site did not receive an answer.