Responding to a question concerning the rule of law, Gulyás referred to the death of a Slovak citizen in police detention in Belgium two years ago, insisting the EU was “more interested in blackmailing central European member states than in upholding fundamental human rights”.
Asked about the EU’s climate targets, Gulyás said all member states should honour their 2030 commitments. Hungary is doing well in this regard, having reduced its CO2 emissions by 40% against 1990 levels, he said. Germany and Sweden, by contrast, “are not even close to meeting their commitments.” Gulyás added that it was “difficult to discuss any targets for 2050 while more prosperous founding member states walk all over the 2030 agreement”.
The PM’s Office chief said it was questionable whether the EU’s Next Generation recovery package would get off the ground. Gulyás said Hungary disagreed with the way the EU was handling the economic crisis caused by the pandemic but, he added, the government supports the bloc’s plans to jointly take out a loan to finance the post-pandemic recovery package out of solidarity with southern member states. Every member state must make sure funds are spent as effectively as possible, he said, adding that the European Commission was due to start talks on the scheme with member states next week.
Asked about the renovation of Budapest’s M3 metro line, he said the matter fully fell within the competence of the metropolitan council, adding that the government was hopeful that the city’s leadership could get the project done. The government has offered the city council financial assistance in a number of areas to prevent it from having to borrow to fund its projects, but has yet to receive a reply, he added.
Asked about the situation around Budapest’s University of Theatre and Film Arts (SZFE), Gulyás said the government was not involved in the talks between the university’s leadership and its students and instructors, but expressed hope that the two sides would reach an agreement on the future of the institution. The government’s sole aim is to ensure that there is quality theatre and film education in the country, he said, noting that the university’s supervisory board had been provided the necessary level of funding to achieve this.
Asked to comment on Pope Francis’s remarks that same-sex couples should be protected by civil union laws, Gulyás said the Fidesz-led government had kept a law on same-sex civil unions passed by the previous Socialist-liberal government intact. He added, at the same time, that under Hungarian law, gay couples are not eligible to adopt, arguing that every child had a right to a mother and a father. Asked to comment on a decision by eight civil groups to turn to the ombudsman for fundamental rights over what they said were hateful remarks by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in connection with a children’s book depicting sexual minorities, Gulyás said the ombudsman “has a broad range of powers but he has a hard time dealing with nonsense”. Orbán had said Hungary was tolerant regarding homosexuality “but there is a red line that shouldn’t be crossed, and that is how I would like to sum up my opinion: leave our children alone”.
On another subject, he said there was no specific date set for the next meeting between Orbán and Russian President Vladimir Putin, adding that plans for the meeting may be affected by several factors, including the pandemic.