The government has clear positions on the issues that sparked heated public debates over the past few months but seeks strong backing from society to represent them in the international arena and at home, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office said commenting on an upcoming “national consultation” survey. Gergely Gulyás cited the examples of compensation payments to Roma in Gyöngyöspata, a procedure linked to recent child murders in Győr, compensation payments to inmates dubbed “prison business” and the independence of judges. Gulyás told a regular press conference that organisations “financed from abroad and claiming to be civil rights organisations” have been involved in almost each of the aforementioned cases. “They protect the rights of perpetrators rather than the rights of victims,” he said.
A total of nine questions are planned to be asked and the letters are expected to be delivered to Hungarian households from mid-March, and the survey could be concluded in May, facilitating legislation reflecting the the results before the end of parliament’s spring session, Gulyás said.
Concerning the Gyöngyöspata case, Gulyás said it raised the question “is it really providing assistance if the compensation paid may disrupt peace in the community”. He also asked if “schoolchidren skipping dozens of days from school are entitled to compensation” and suggested that providing assistance which could close the gap between the segregated youth and majority society would be more purposeful.
On the subject of the “prison business” Gulyás said that the government is committed to meeting “reasonable” European requirements “aimed at serving human dignity”, but rules under which “Hungary should pay an annual 8 billion forints (EUR 23.6m) for providing an inmate 3 square metres rather than 4” are “another question”. “Binding rulings must be obeyed”, Gulyás said, but added that “it is up for discussion whether the Hungarian state should pay inmates serving their sentences under… the practice of the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights”. He also added that the government would submit an amendment before the end of the month “so that the issue of overcrowded prisons is resolved and no money from the central budget is paid out unnecessarily”.
Touching upon the Győr murders, Gulyás advocated a strict penal policy to prevent such crimes and suggested that it was not justifiable to release murderers on probation once perpetrators of organised economic crimes were not granted that opportunity.
In another development, Gulyás said that the weak forint “has but a smaller impact” since the country is “no longer entrapped” in earlier forex loans. He argued that only 17-18% of Hungary’s foreign debt was denominated in foreign currencies. Asked about Gábor Kaleta, Hungary’s former ambassador to Peru, who has allegedly been involved in a child pornography case, Gulyas said that the government had been asked by US authorities not to disclose information before an international investigation is completed.