Asked whether Prime Minister Viktor Orbán may announce a new alliance with Matteo Salvini, the leader of the Italian League, in Rome next week, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office, Gergely Gulyás, said Fidesz continued to be an EPP member. He said the time had not come to form an alternative alliance. If Fidesz quit the EPP, the party would still regard the CDU and CSU as its partners in Germany, he said, adding that Fidesz would not form an alliance with the AfD. This, he said, would be a “red line”. Gulyás noted that Orbán will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin in February.
On the topic of prison conditions in Hungary, he noted that 12,000 lawsuits have been filed so far and the state has been sued to the tune of 10 billion forints (EUR 30m). He added that the suits were “an abuse” of European and Hungarian laws. Whereas prisons should provide appropriate conditions, the “business” that offenders were doing by suing the state should be eliminated, he said. The government has ordered temporary detention facilities to be opened and more prison facilities are being built, he said. Around an additional 1,500 places are needed, he said, adding that a prison hospital is under construction and three jails designed to house 500 inmates each are planned. The justice ministry is reviewing the law on rules for compensating prisoners, and parliament will decide on the matter in mid-February, he said.
Commenting on the court ruling in connection with the segregation of Roma in Gyöngyöspata dating back to 2003, Gulyás said the decision had not helped formerly segregated Gypsies catch up. The government, he said, is ready to help the Roma involved catch up by providing them with educational opportunities equal to the amount of money awarded to them by the court, he said. The Kúria, Hungary’s supreme court, should deliver a verdict on the matter if a consensus fails to emerge during negotiations between the government and stakeholders, he added.
Commenting on jobs, he said though unemployment has fallen drastically since 2010, deep poverty was still prevalent in some areas. Also, there are cases of “natural segregation” in schools in some counties when classes of Roma are formed when non-Gypsies are removed from them. Gulyás said the government was mulling possible solutions to this problem, bearing certain “political sensitivities” in mind.