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The Hungarian parliament has the sole authority to change the conditions it approved in a bill on Tuesday regarding the European Union’s coronavirus rescue package, the PM’s chief of staff said. At the EU summit this week, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will be bound by those conditions, Gergely Gulyás said in an interview with HírTv. The prime minister would have to re-submit any changes to parliament for another debate, he added.
Since the EU plans to take out a loan to finance its post-pandemic recovery package and every member state must provide a guarantee, a parliamentary resolution was warranted, he said. Opinions on the loan are “far apart” within the bloc, Gulyás said. “Whether Hungary vetoes [the proposal] isn’t the question.” Countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden and Austria refuse to provide aid to the southern member states and would only provide loans, he said. Meanwhile, central Europe “has its own conditions”, he added. Regarding criticism levelled against Hungary regarding the rule of law, Gulyás said the issue was being used as political ammunition “against conservative central European governments”. Having suffered through the communist dictatorship, Hungary’s government “highly appreciates the rule of law”, he said.
On another topic, Gulyás said the Hungarian government had an obligation to protect its citizens against the novel coronavirus. The interests of holidaymakers abroad would have to take a back seat, he said. The government has to be prepared to stop the virus from entering the country again to avoid a shutdown similar to that in March, he said. At its meeting on Wednesday, the government will decide whether to green-light festivals and celebrations after August 15, among them the fireworks on Hungary’s national holiday on August 20, Gulyás said. Answering a question about EU funding directly available for local governments and other organisations, Gulyás said some funds are already available in “older member states” but in central Europe they were only available to a limited extent. On the topic of the reconstruction of Budapest’s Chain Bridge, Gulyás insisted that the municipality had 180 billion forints (EUR 508m) in bonds for that purpose. Budapest “has that money right now; they could renovate Chain Bridge 6-8 times over,” Gulyás said. In light of this, the central government sees no reason to increase its support for the works, he said.