Zoltan Kovacs – Photo: kormany.hu

Kovacs: EU budget proposal bad for Hungary

Proposed European budget provisions are "unserious" and would put Hungary at a greater disadvantage than it is already, Zoltan Kovacs, the state secretary for international relations at the Prime Minister's Office, has said in an interview.

Kovacs said Hungary had been on the receiving end of “injustice for eleven years now” and had been singled out on no objective grounds.

In a video interview published on the website pestisracok.hu on Wednesday, he noted that since the start of the migration crisis in 2015, Hungary has spent more than 600 billion forints (EUR 1.6bn) on protecting not only the country’s borders but Europe’s, too. But “they couldn’t care less” about this, he said.

Kovacs also referred to new EU mandatory quotas and the requirement of registration, saying the plans flew in the face of a previous decision by the European Council and would put Hungary at a bigger disadvantage.

Meanwhile, funds to the benefit of the country were being withheld, he said, noting that the money was not a gift or donation but part of a compensation mechanism. The conditionality procedure linked to the rule of law was simply “political punishment” and “ideological disciplining of recalcitrant member states”.

Kovacs said the EU had channelled more than 70 billion euros to Ukraine, and now they were asking members states for 50 billion more, which he called “unserious”. Brussels, he added, had not accounted for the resources spent so far or specified what they were used for. Since Brussels was asking for more and more money, it looked increasingly like EU funds had already been spent, he added.

On the topic of a pay rise for teachers, he said that while the government was in favour in principle, loans should not pay for salary hikes, and increases should be made in line with the country’s economic capacities.

Regarding the migrant quota issue, he said Brussels backed illegal migration “explicitly and implicitly”, and it had failed to come up with any better solution in the past eight years. Hungary’s position is that the EU’s legal system and its values can only be preserved if the external borders are protected; and other central European countries agreed, he added.

The government always sticks up for Hungarian interests, the state secretary declared. The growing gulf between Hungary and Brussels is not because the government is ratcheting up conflict but rather the European Commission and European Parliament are straying into more and more areas that the EU has no business in, he said.

Asked about the Wagner group’s rebellion, Kovacs said Hungary would only deal with developments if they harmed the security of the Hungarian people. He also warned against drawing bad conclusions about related affairs in Russia. “People need to be understood in their own environment and shown due respect,” he added.

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