Klara Dobrev at the plenary session of the European Parliament

Dobrev: ‘Strong Europe needed’

Klara Dobrev, the leader of the opposition Democratic Coalition, Socialist and Parbeszed parties for the EP elections, said she wanted European wages, pensions and health care, at the three parties' joint celebration of International Labour Day and the 20th anniversary of Hungary's EU accession, in Budapest on Wednesday.

“I want a strong Europe, one that is able to care for all Hungarian people, even if it requires defending them against the [incumbent] government,” Dobrev said in City Park, arguing that “Hungary’s EU membership and the prestige of labour are under attack from the right.”

“Although Hungary is there, in Europe, the country has been shamed, Hungarians have the lowest wages and pensions in Europe, their country has the worst level of health-care services and the level of public education has deteriorated most here while the family circles of [Prime Minister] Viktor Orban have stolen the unprecedented amount of money pouring onto the country,” she said. “This must be stopped,” the DK politician said.

The Hungarian government, Dobrev said, had also intimidated Hungarian workers by threatening “to replace them with cheaper foreign labour if they dare to complain”.

“Only a left-wing, green, social-democrat government will be able to pull Hungary out of this nightmare,” she said, urging opposition parties to join forces.

Gergely Karacsony, the mayor of Budapest and a Parbeszed politician, said that “twenty years after Hungary’s EU accession, the tone of the anniversary’s celebration is bitter-sweet”. “Although we must value and should not forget that we are a member of Europe’s most peaceful and most progressive political alliance, we must also see that the other countries that joined 20 years ago along with Hungary have made better use of the opportunity to lift their nation,” he said.

The EU, Karacsony said, was not perfect either. “It is not strong enough, gives too much to the elite and too little to the people,” the mayor said, adding that “we want a stronger Europe, because we believe in the notion that only a stronger Europe could ensure Hungary’s national sovereignty”.

“A parasite state will never use EU funds in a smart way,” Karacsony said. “Those monies are missing from the education and health-care sectors, from the city of Budapest and the smallest Hungarian villages. The state must be changed, service must be chosen instead of ruling over a country.”

Imre Komjathi of the Socialists pledged to strengthen trade unions, “which are the immune system of working people and society”.

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