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SECURITY CTTEE MEETING CONVENED TO DISCUSS STRACHE AFFAIR LACKS QUORUM

 

A national security committee meeting convened to discuss potential Hungarian ties to the Strache affair on Friday lacked a quorum because of a no-show by ruling party representatives. Heinz-Christian Strache resigned his post of Austria’s vice-chancellor last weekend after a video emerged of him offering state contracts to a woman claiming to be a rich Russian in exchange for support in the 2017 election campaign. The national security committee meeting had been convened by Ádám Mirkóczki, the committee’s Jobbik head.

In a statement issued just before the meeting’s scheduled start time, ruling Fidesz said it was the Socialist Party that had done business with Heinrich Pecina, an Austrian businessman mentioned by Strache in the video, when the party sold him its shares in the leftist-leaning daily Népszabadság. “If the opposition wants something to be investigated, it should be this,” Fidesz said, adding that “the ruling party representatives will not assist the opposition in its campaign event.”

Speaking to reporters after the meeting’s cancellation, Mirkóczki said it was not the first time that the ruling parties had boycotted a committee meeting, but a no-show by representatives of the intelligence community was unprecedented. He said this could constitute a violation of Hungary’s national security law.

Mirkóczki said the committee will ask Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó and Interior Minister Sándor Pintér whether they had instructed the intelligence representatives to stay away from the meeting. If it turns out that it was not the ministers who had given the order, he said, they will turn to the agencies themselves to ask whether the instruction had come from Fidesz.

At the proposal of the Socialist Party’s Zsolt Molnár, the committee will also ask Speaker of Parliament László Kövér whether he plans to recommend the committee’s dissolution, Mirkóczki said. Friday’s agenda would have covered threats to Hungary’s independence and sovereignty, he added.

Péter Ungár of opposition LMP said business transactions similar to the one mentioned in the Strache video had also been conducted in Hungary, insisting that the upgrade of Hungary’s Paks nuclear power plant was one of the most lucrative of those deals.

Zsolt Molnár said Friday had seen “the end of Hungarian parliamentarism”. He said the no-show by intelligence representatives was proof that Hungary was functioning like a single-party state and raised the question of how they had known that the meeting would lack quorum.

János Halász, the Fidesz group spokesman who is also deputy chairman of the committee, said the opposition had intended to use the meeting for political campaign purposes. The committee’s opposition chairman wanted to exploit the committee for his party’s own campaign goals, he insisted, adding that the National Security Committee and the security services could not be hijacked for campaign purposes. It is for this reason that the government parties stayed away from today’s meeting, he said.