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GULYÁS: HUNGARY, NORWAY IN TALKS ON GRANT FUNDS

 

Talks are ongoing between Hungary and Norway on the distribution of funds to Hungarian civil groups from the Norwegian government under its Norway Grants scheme, but it is uncertain if an agreement will be reached, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office said. Gergely Gulyás said in response to a question that negotiations between the two countries had been made more difficult by the Norwegian government’s “insistence on supporting the civil organisations of [US billionaire] George Soros”. Hungary, however, intends to spend the entirety of the grant on schemes aimed at improving the integration of the Roma community, he said. In response to a question, Gulyás said he had no knowledge of the US president having been asked to mediate in the talks between the two countries.

On the topic of the government’s family protection action plan, Gulyás said the scheme’s implementation was going smoothly. He noted that the first four of the plan’s seven measures entered into effect on Monday. The measures are attracting a lot of interest, Gulyás said, adding that the government expects the number of applications for the various support schemes to reach record levels by the end of the month.

Gulyás was also asked about reports by news portal Index saying that the ruling parties were planning to draft a constitutional amendment proposal that would include a ban on adoptions by same-sex couples if Budapest Mayor István Tarlós won re-election in the autumn. Gulyás commented on the reports by saying that “Index has gotten started on the election campaign as a member of [Párbeszéd candidate] Gergely Karácsony’s team.” The PM’s Office chief said it was “completely absurd” to try to link the planned constitutional amendment with the municipal elections. He said there were no plans to change the rules around adoption, which currently allow adoption by heterosexual couples only.

On another subject, Gulyás said he did not think the move to relocate research institutions of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) to a new body with its own, independent budget chapter violated any European Union laws. He added that he did not expect the EU to launch an infringement procedure against Hungary over the amendment.