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The government has approved a climate and nature protection action plan, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office said. At his regular press briefing, Gergely Gulyás said the details of the plan will be laid out by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at his state of the nation address on Sunday. The government has made it clear on multiple occasions that it intends to do everything in its power both in Hungary and in Europe “to ensure progress on green matters”, Gulyás said. The aim is for Hungary to continue to do all it can in the era of climate change to make sure that future generations inherit a country that is in better shape than it is now, he added.
Regarding the spread of the coronavirus, Gulyás said no cases of Hungarians infected by the virus have been reported so far, nor has anyone on Hungary’s territory been infected. Answering a question, Gulyas said that 188 Hungarian citizens are staying currently in China, two of them in Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, who wish to stay there. Another seven Hungarian nationals taken home earlier from China with the Hungarian government’s help remain under close observation at Budapest’s St. László Hospital, Gulyás said, adding that they are expected to be released on Sunday. He said that Hungary is fully prepared for prevention based on a 28-point comprehensive action plan.
Speaking of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Gulyás said inter-state relations between the two countries were balanced. Among the issues discussed were the impact of a potential recession or stagnation of Western Europe’s economy on Hungary, and the EU’s 2021-2027 budget, he said.
Gulyás said that hopefully an agreement could be reached regarding the EU’s budget for the 2021-20227 financial cycle. The Feb. 20 summit of the EU heads of state and government will be the first attempt to approve the budget, he said. The minister called the recently amended national curriculum, which has been the subject of widespread debates, “a step forward”. He said the government was ready to participate in the debate “staged with a variety of political players taking part”. Addressing a specific criticism on the document, Gulyas said the head of public school operator Klik has already announced that Nobel-prize laureate Imre Kertész will be included in Hungarian teaching materials.
Regarding the relations between Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party and its party family in the European Parliament, the European People’s Party (EPP), Gulyás said Fidesz hoped the EPP would return to its original values when it was open “to the right but not to extremism”. Regarding Fidesz’s membership in the group, which was suspended last March, Gulyás said they have no “deadline” to leave the EPP “but common sense says there are limits to the point in keeping up such an uncertain situation”.
Gulyás said the government has had the first round of talks regarding the human resources ministry’s proposals on the regulation of health-care institutions. The ministry, in cooperation with the Prime Minister’s Office and the finance ministry, is trying to separate problems caused by a lack of resources from those due to management failures, he said. The government is ready to allocate additional funding to avoid those institutes slipping into debt by the end of the year, he said, adding that they estimate those costs to come to around 55 billion forints (EUR 162m) annually.