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Latest News – May 19, 2022

János Stummer Bows Out of Jobbik

After losing his bid for the Jobbik presidency at their congress over the weekend, then laying out his differences with re-elected President Péter Jakab the next day, János Stummer has decided he’s had enough of the party.

Today I leave the Movement for the Better Hungary (Jobbik). At Jobbik’s elections on Saturday, I offered a clear political alternative to Jobbik’s delegates at the congress, but most of them said no to the patriotic policies and organizational renewal I had proposed.

-wrote János Stummer on Facebook, who only ended up with 27.8% of the vote for party president.

On Saturday, it became clear to me that the political community that I had been a member and builder of for the past 13 years did not want to continue on the road that is conducive to the future of my country. I have kept my distance from the policies and leadership practices of Péter Jakab and his narrrow group thus far, but I do not wish to be associated with him in the future.

-continued Stummer, who added that he had no intention of forming a new party or political movement.

Stummer headed the National Security Committee in the last parliamentary cycle, but did not win a seat in Parliament in this year’s elections after losing a bid for his Békécsaba-based district. [444]

CPAC Coming to Hungary Next Week

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is coming to Budapest on May 19-20, according to a Twitter post by Balázs Orbán, the Prime Minister’s political director.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson will be the biggest name to appear from abroad, while Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will be the keynote speaker on the Hungarian side. Carlson, however, will only be attending remotely and won’t be making a personal appearance at the event.

The Budapest event will only be an adjunct CPAC, as the larger, annual event was previously held this past February in Florida. The original date for CPAC Hungary was in March, prior to the Hungarian elections, when they had hoped to lure former President Donald Trump to Budapest.

Beyond their ideological affinity for one other, Tucker Carlson and Viktor Orbán also have a connection through the television host’s father, lobbyist Richard Carlson. According to 444, the Orbán government hired the senior Carlson’s company, Policy Impact Stategic Communications, to lobby for it in Congress in the fall of 2018. [444]

Macron and Orbán Discuss Energy Security Issues

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán spoke by phone with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, Bertalan Havasi, the Prime Minister’s Press Chief, told news agency MTI.

The two leaders discussed issues related to Europe’s energy security, said the tight-lipped Havasi.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen took a surprise trip to Budapest on Monday to meet with Orbán and attempt to convince him to support energy sanctions against Russia.

Leaked information about the discussions has suggested that the EU will give a longer period for Hungary and other countries heavily dependent on Russian oil to transition to different sources, and will also reportedly provide financial resources to manage the process. [Magyar Hang]

Katalin Novák Takes Over Office of President of Hungary

Katalin Novák took over the office of the President of Hungary on Tuesday, with outgoing head of state János Áder receiving the new president at the entrance of the Sándor Palace in the morning, reported M1.

Novák was elected President of Hungary on March 10. Her inauguration on May 14 is expected to be a high-profile event, with a service in the Kálvin Square Reformed Church, an inauguration ceremony in Kossuth Lajos Square, and an open day in the Sándor Palace.

According to the Fundamental Law, the President of Hungary expresses the unity of the nation, guards the democratic functioning of the state organization, and is Commander-in-Chief of the Hungarian Armed Forces. The head of state is elected by the parliament for five years and is eligible for re-election once.

Katalin Novák, who will be Hungary’s sixth head of state since the end of the socialist era in 1989, introduced her staff on Monday. [HVG]

Donáth Confirms Pregnancy, Won’t Run for Momentum Presidency Again

“The news is true: I am expecting a child, so I won’t be running again to be president of Momentum,” wrote Anna Donáth on Facebook on Monday.

Tabloid Blikk had already leaked the news a few days ago that the Momentum President had told her fellow party members that she was expecting her first child, but she had not made a public statement on the matter until now.

Donáth also wrote in her post:

A wonderful thing is happening in my life: I will be a mother. In addition, I have had to reevaluate many things in terms of my personal and political future. I realized that I would not be able to handle the daily presidential duties of Momentum, which is getting stronger and stronger and has a bright future ahead of it, while facing the task of motherhood with its exceptionally exciting, but numerous unknown challenges.

The politician added:

But I’m not worried about Momentum. This community is much more than a single politican or leader. I won’t disappear either. As a Momentum politician, I will continue to do my best to create a just, humane Hungary.

-wrote Anna Donáth, who closed her post by thanking everyone for their good wishes and a request for privacy in the future. [Magyar Hang]

Ministry Forbids Baja From Making Local Public Transporation Free

Since the beginning of the year, residents of the southern Hungarian town of Baja have been able to use public transport free of charge. The result have been encouraging thus far, but the Ministry of Innovation and Technology (ITM) has deemed that the decision by the Baja municipality is illegal, writes ATV.

The ministry wrote to the city to inform them that rider fees could not be changed during the state of emergency, and gave the municipality two months to resolve the issue.

The municipality of Baja is trying to get Parliament to take up the issue and come up with appropriate legislation for such cases. [Telex]

Our Homeland President Doesn’t Support Oil Embargo Either

In Parliament today, Our Homeland President László Toroczkai said that Hungary’s territorial integrity and interests were of vital importance, reports Index.

Toroczkai stated that Our Homeland supported all steps that reject the embargo, and they reject all sanctions that are harmful to the Hungarian people.

He also said that the United States was at war with Russia, and that the party wants the Hungarian government to stand up even more firmly for the interests of ethnic Hungarians in the Transcarpathian region. [Index]

Is Huxit Party Orbán’s Way of Testing Hungarian Public Opinion on Leaving EU?

444 has an interesting theory as to what may be behind yesterday’s news of the tiny Volner Party changing its name to the “Huxit Party” and declaring Hungary’s departure from the European Union as its main goal.

According to experts the news site spoke to, “it communicates that Viktor Orbán is now openly testing how receptive the Hungarian public is to leaving the EU.”

This doesn’t mean that the Prime Minister is already heading for the exits, writes the site, but it does “float the subject on the horizon, and bring it one step closer to the world of theoretical possibilities.” [444]

No Breakthrough as Von Der Leyen Makes Unexpected Trip to Budapest to Meet with Orbán

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen unexpectedly arrived in the Hungarian capital on Monday to learn more about Hungary’s energy issues and attempt to persuade Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to approve the EU’s sixth round of sanctions on Russia.

Hungary, which is heavily dependent on Russian oil supplies, is the most determined opponent of phasing out its current energy sources. An embargo on Russia oil has been proposed by the EU as part of a new series of sanctions, but it must be approved by the 27 member states.

Previously-leaked news indicated that the Orbán government could be granted a reprieve of the embargo for a few years, but this has not yet been enough to lift Hungarian resistance to the plan.

In Parliament on Monday morning, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó also repeated Viktor Orbán’s earlier statement that the Brussels proposal would amount to an atomic bomb dropped on the Hungarian economy.

On Twitter, the President of the European Commission did not announce a breakthrough with the Hungarian government, but said that they had “made progress”:

[Népszava]

Jobbik is in “Very Big Trouble,” Says Stummer

After losing the election for president of Jobbik at yesterday’s party congress, János Stummer posted the speech he gave at the event on social media, which wasn’t very complimentary of the job done so far by re-elected Jobbik President Péter Jakab:

At the beginning of this speech, it is worth asking who the other presidential candidate is besides me at this congress, because it is not Péter Jakab. Dear Peter, we can say that over the past two years, it was not you leading, and not you directing this party. Four years ago, you wrote to me that you can speak, but you can’t lead, and the past two years have borne out your statement. You have spoken, but others have led and directed instead of you.

-wrote the former head of the parliamentary National Security Committee.

Stummer believes that the party should start by saying openly, honestly, and directly that they are in very big trouble.

The politician added that he believes Jobbik needs to return to the “national path,” and also change the internal functioning of the party. “There is a bad atmosphere, dark rooms, threats, retaliation, and fear in many people now. But it wasn’t always this way,” wrote János Stummer. [HVG]

Szijjártó: We Won’t Vote for Latest Russian Sanctions

“We will not be voting on another round of sanctions in Brussels until there is a solution to Hungary’s energy security,” wrote Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Péter Szijjártó on social media on Sunday.

Szijjártó wrote that he had spoken by phone with Abdulla Shahid, the President of the UN General Assembly. The Hungarian Foreign Minister called on Shahid to continue to use the prestige of the United Nations for a ceasefire and peace-building, as “it is in the interests of us Hungarians for there to be peace as soon as possible.”

We also talked about the new sanctions package from Brussels. Shahid is well aware that we have voted in favor of all the sanctions packages so far, but this latest one would destroy the security of Hungary’s energy supply, which has been on solid footing until now. Until there is a solution to the problem posed by the Brussels proposal, we will not vote in favor of this package.

-wrote Péter Szijjártó on Facebook.

On Friday morning, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called the latest sanctions an “economic atomic bomb” for his country. [Index]

Despite Hungary’s Resistance, Brussels Expects Agreement on New Russian Sanctions Within Days

A joint resolution issued by the European Commission (EC) and the currently French-led Council of Ministers indicates that talks will resume early in the week on reaching a complete agreement on new sanctions against Russia as soon as possible.

According to the statement, in recent days the EC has advanced revised proposals that have been intensively negotiated between Brussels and Member State governments, “and very good progress has been made on most of the measures.” The resolution emphasizes that guarantees to maintain energy supply to Member States heavily dependent on Russian oil will soon be finalized.

Among the 27 countries of the EU, Hungary is the strongest opponent of the proposed oil embargo, which Viktor Orbán called an “economic atomic bomb.”

Despite the Hungarian Prime Minister’s strong wording, the mood in Brussels is optimistic. Officials quoted in the international press claim that only another day or day and a half are needed to reach a full agreement. [Népszava]

Volner Party Becomes Huxit Party

“The first year-and-a-half stage of the life of the Volner Party ends today. In the future, we will continue under the name Huxit Party, indicating our next big goal. Our most important goal is to secure Hungary’s departure from the European Union,” writes János Volner on Facebook, who was an unaffiliated representative in the National Assembly in the last parliamentary cycle, but did not win a new mandate for this term.

Volner believes that it is not economically worthwhile for Hungary to remain in the European Union. Additionally, the war in Ukraine has caused supply problems that he thinks could be remedied with “Huxit.”

János Volner is a former Jobbik vice-president who eventually left the party and joined Our Homeland before starting his eponymously-named party.

Volner Party did not take part in this year’s parliamentary elections as it did not expect to pass the 5% threshold to get into Parliament, and the party claimed that running candidates would only “increase the chances of the left-liberals coming to power.” [444]

DK Turns to EU Anti-Fraud Office Over Suspected Corruption by Officials

The Democratic Coalition (DK) has lodged a complaint with the EU’s anti-fraud office, OLAF, over the abuse of funds among staff in the Ministry of Finance and Prime Minister’s Office, the party announced on Saturday morning.

The Central Investigating Prosecutor General’s Office launched an investigation at the end of April into suspected bribery and other crimes, including misuse of tenders. Certain employees at the Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister’s Office have been connected with the scandal, in which they were able to obtain 10 billion Ft. (US $27.6 million) in aid from EU and Hungarian sources through corrupt criminal activities.

On Friday, it was revealed that the prosecutor’s office conducting the investigation had questioned 20 suspects, 12 of whom represented a company, and seven of whom were current or former ministry officials.

Sándor Rónai, DK’s representative in the European Parliament, called it shocking that:

In Hungary today, on the 18th anniversary of our joining the EU, money from the European Union intended for Hungarians can disappear in the depths of official rooms, and which could have been used to develop hospitals, schools, and roads, renovate buildings, or build playgrounds.

[Magyar Hang]

Gov’t Decree Steals Building from City of Vác, Gives It to Fidesz-Aligned Foundation

“A government decree from April gives the distinguished building complex behind me to a foundation based in Zebegény free of charge. The leaders of the city as well as the citizens of the city of Vác, I can say with certainty, consider this decision unfounded and unacceptable,” Vác Mayor Ilona Matkovich said at a press conference on Thursday.

Two days after the April 3 election, it was revealed that a government decree had gifted one of Vác’s iconic exhibition halls, the baroque building at 16 Káptalan St., to a foundation named the Danube Bend Protection Association, based in Zebegény. The curator of the foundation, Gergő Bajor, is also the secretary of Bence Rétvári, the parliamentary representative for the region.

The building is currently under city management, but this situation would be changed by a government decision to redirect public property to private property, and public purposes to private purposes, said Ilona Matkovich.

Moreover, the local municipality has already planned to use the building to exhibit the collection of painter Gyula Hincz, as the city originally received the building from the state for this purpose.

Since the end of the socialist period, it has never occurred that a local municipality, without any prior notification, was surprised with news that a public building used by so many people would be taken away from them.

-said Mayor Matkovich, who learned about the decision in the Official Gazette. [Népszava]

With Áder Leaving as President, Law He Objected to Will Be Voted on Again

Departing President János Áder hardly ever objected to whatever the government wanted during the ten years of his presidency, writes Telex. But an amendment to the Water Management Act was an issue over which Áder not only took a contrary position for years, but also was able to prevent the government’s will from prevailing.

The government tried to amend the law in 2017 to make it easier for people to drill wells, permitting well drilling to a depth of 80 meters without having to obtain authorization or notify anyone as long as the well only provided water for household use.

However, Áder thought the amendment would endanger groundwater resources, so instead of signing it, he sent the amendment to the Constitutional Court, which determined that the law was unconstitutional.

The government tried again in 2020 with an amendment that experts determined was much more serious than in 2017, but again Áder refused to sign it.

The amendment challenged by Áder has not become law since, but the original 2017 bill that Áder sent to the Constitutional Court has now reappeared on the website of the National Assembly, for the third time, under a new issue number.

But now, Áder only has a few days left as President of Hungary, with Katalin Novák to assume the role on May 10. [Telex]

Áder Believes He Did a Good Job as President

János Áder, whose term as President of Hungary will end on May 9, gave a farewell interview to Magyar Nemzet, telling the Hungarian daily that he will depart with a “calm heart,” believing that he has fulfilled his main duties in the role.

When asked about “having to face continuous ‘opposition provocation’ to prove that he truly represented every Hungarian,” Áder responded:

Everyone is hurt by insults and undeserved attacks. But a politician only has to pay attention to whether the decision he made is proper from a humane, moral, and legal point of view. In 2012, when I was elected, a key part of my speech in the National Assembly was that I would undertake to represent Hungarian interests and values. Looking back over the last ten years, I can say with a calm heart, on behalf of myself and my colleagues, that we have fulfilled this commitment.

[Népszava]

Jobbik Re-Elects Péter Jakab as President

Péter Jakab was re-elected as Jobbik President at the party’s congress on Saturday, Jobbik announced in a statement.

The congress was not open to the public, but the party said that Jakab won 71.4% of the vote, while his lone challenger, János Stummer, only managed to get 27.8%. 245 delegates were at the event, with 243 valid votes cast.

Jobbik’s party congress was overshadowed by reports earlier this week of an attempted rape that allegedly occurred during a party event late last year. [Magyar Hang]

Medvedev Praises Orbán for Not Supporting Embargo on Russian Oil

Viktor Orbán has taken a bold step by “not supporting the devastating Russian energy embargo and insane sanctions against church figures,” wrote former Russian president and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia, on Telegram.

The most sensible leaders in the European Union seem to be tired of moving quietly towards the abyss with the sterilized European flock that an American shepherd is leading to the slaughterhouse.

-wrote Medvedev, apparently referring to US President Joe Biden.

On Friday morning, Viktor Orbán compared the European Commission’s proposed oil embargo on Russia to an “economic atomic bomb.”

The Hungarian Prime Minister also rejected plans to sanction Patriarch Kirill of Moscow as well, claiming that it violated the freedom of religion. [444]

Orbán Calls EU Oil Embargo on Russia an “Economic Atomic Bomb”

The government was willing to agree to the first five rounds of EU sanctions against Russia, but the idea of an oil embargo is a red line for them, Viktor Orbán told Kossuth Rádió on Friday morning.

“There are several problems with the proposal for a Russian oil embargo,” said the Prime Minister, claiming that it ignores the fact that EU Member Countries have different capabilities.

Hungary, for example, can only get a large quantity of its oil through pipelines, and so “the European Commission’s proposal amounts to an economic atomic bomb,” he said.

As it would cost several billion forints and take 4-5 years for Hungary to convert its facilities to a new oil supplier, the Prime Minister questioned whether it would be worth it.

However, oil and gas company MOL had previously given lower estimates than this, stating that it would take an investment of several hundreds of millions of dollars and only 2-4 years to convert its Hungarian and Slovakian refineries to a different type of oil.

MOL recently announced a pre-tax profit of $833 million for just the first quarter of 2022, so it has abundant resources to carry out such a conversion. [444]