Gergely Gulyas – Photo: MTI

Gulyas briefs MPs on government work, says strong NATO in Hungary’s interest

At a hearing of parliament's justice committee on Tuesday, the head of the Prime Minister's Office said government offices had done an "outstanding job" providing aid to refugees arriving from Ukraine, while the government system overseeing mandatory price caps on some food products had worked smoothly.

Gergely Gulyas said local administration would be transferred from the PM’s Office to an independent, new ministry, headed by Tibor Navracsics, on January 1.

Highlighting the work of Hungary’s 313 local government offices, Gulyas said their 2,500 clerks had met 14,300 clients last year, while 250 mobile offices operated in buses had reached out to 3.5 million people.

The local government offices processed 40,000 asylum applications, and registered 1.2 million entries from Ukraine, Gulyas said. He noted the government’s position that “Hungary does not need to accommodate people arriving in hopes of a better life from the other hemisphere, but when Hungary is the first safe country, it will provide fast, generous, and legally correct assistance.” He thanked charity organisations for their assistance to refugees, and said the central budget had contributed a combined 4.5 billion forints to their budgets.

Answering a question concerning Sweden’s NATO entry, he said Hungary had an interest in a strong NATO, but added that “Sweden’s membership will not influence NATO’s combined defence capabilities.” He said, however, that the government had submitted the ratification to parliament. The vote, he said, would be held “sooner or later”.

He also said “Sweden and its political elite should give some kind of answer concerning their defamation of Hungary.” “This issue does not seem to be too important for Sweden, since there has been no diplomatic activity aimed at reaching even a minimum of the settlement of differences of opinion or clarifying Sweden’s slanderous remarks on Hungary,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gulyas said Hungary’s law on guest workers would be “Europe’s most stringent” legislation, limiting the number of foreign job seekers and restricting their employment to certain positions.

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