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Interior Ministry reponds to leaked audio of Government Commissioner Attila Sztojka promising favors

picture of Attila Szojka

A day after Népszava reported on an audio recording of Government Commissioner Attila Sztojka (pictured) alledgedly offering certain favors in return for “political results,” the Ministry of the Interior has responded to these claims, writes Telex.

The Interior Ministry (BM) stated that there had been several untrue allegtions published about the meeting held on December 29, 2021 between Attila Sztojka, government commissioner responsible for Roma relations, Roma nationality advocate Félix Farkas, and representatives of the National Roma Self-Government (ORÖ). The Office of the Government Commissioner within BM issued a statement to say that the meeting was held to discuss ORÖ’s precarious financial situation, and for the government commissioner to talk about setting up the Roma Public Life Academy.

However, the recording appears to tell a different story, as Attila Sztojka seemingly dangled contracts and subsidies for certain ORÖ members if they put the government’s preferred candidate at the top of the Roma nationality list. At stake is a seat in Parliament, which could be crucial for Fidesz in the event of a close election.

Stojka told the invited representatives on the recording that they could not go wrong if they voted for the right leader of the list. The government commissioner promised them, “I’ll bring you some opportunities, there’s no doubt about that.”

He also talked about one-off grants that would be paid in late January or early February. However, he also warned those present that “As someone in BM, I know a lot of things about everybody. I even know who spoke with whom, and in what way.”

The Directorate General for Social Opportunities, which Sztojka heads, is under the auspices of the Ministry of the Interior. The letter sent by the Office of the Government Commissioner at the Ministry of the Interior does not respond to the specific allegations mentioned above, but only writes that several untrue allegations had been published about the meeting held at the Benczúr Hotel in Budapest without saying what it disagreed with.

Separately, ORÖ President János Agócs wrote to Telex on Wednesday to state that several such meetings had been held, to which only certain members of ORÖ had attended. As president of the organization, he said he had not been invited to any of them.

The ORÖ President acknowledged that those who took part in the meeting “perform expected political activities in return for certain services.” The issue was also a topic at Wednesday’s ORÖ meeting, where Agócs maintained “a strong suspicion that a crime had been committed.”

The background behind all this is that for the first time, the list of Roma nationalities list did not turn out as favorably for the Fidesz-KDNP coalition as they had hoped. The government wanted to put Félix Farkas, a favorite of Fidesz-friendly Lungo Drom, at the top of the Roma nationality list, but the National Roma Self-Government chose President Agócs instead.

This decision was then annulled by the Constitutional Court, and ORÖ must now amend its rules of procedure and hold a new assembly to choose who will run in the 2022 parliamentary elections on its nationalities list.

[Telex]