Gergely Karácsony
Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony – Photo: MTI / Zsolt Szigetváry

Karacsony ‘proud’ of achievements as mayor in past three years

Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony on Saturday expressed his pride over achievements made in the past three years, stating that all 323 measures introduced in the period served to make the city freer and greener.

Karacsony and Richard Barabas, spokesman for opposition Parbeszed and deputy mayor of Budapest’s 11th district, assessed the achievements and outlined tasks for the next two years at a joint event on Margaret Island on the occasion that Karacsony was appointed Budapest Mayor on October 13 in 2019.

By the end of 2022, some 164 billion forints (EUR 510m) had been “taken out of the capital’s pockets” as a result of various government decisions, he said. Additionally, the city’s officials had to cope with the economic crisis, the coronavirus pandemic and the energy crisis, he said.

Karacsony said that in the spirit of “open governance”, his administration had engaged in social debates over the last three years on issues like the uses for public spaces. The mayor said he did not care about re-election but wanted to change the city when it came to things like how people view public spaces.

He also said he was encouraged by the fact that in the public budget, Budapest residents had voted in favour of more social policies and green areas in the city. He emphasised the importance of public transport developments which involved the goal of procuring more comfortable and more energy-efficient vehicles.

The mayor said that despite the measures aimed at making the city greener, he was not satisfied. He said he hoped there would be a period when there would be “fewer burdens” and more could be done for a “free and green” Budapest.

Karacsony expressed his belief that green policies should represent both those who are “worried about the world” and those who are “worried about the end of the month”. “This is the direction to go in even in a wartime crisis,” he added.

Karacsony criticised the government for what he called its “grey stance” on the war in Ukraine. “There is no dilemma that we should dial back on humanity in return for . access to cheaper Russian gas,” he argued. The mayor said Russian President Vladimir Putin was the end beneficiary of Hungarians’ higher utility bills, adding that “no one has ever financed a war from renewable energy.”

The city must remain a community characterised by solidarity in order to overcome the difficulties, Karacsony said. Efforts are being made to make Budapest climate neutral and carbon neutral by 2030, he said.

“If we survive 2023, then we’ll win 2024 and Budapest can become a green city of solidarity, where walking on grass is allowed,” he added.

Ruling Fidesz in response said Budapest had only been “backsliding” with its affairs over the past three years. “Public transport is chaotic, the city is becoming dirtier day by day and it is becoming filled with slums,” the party’s Budapest chapter said in a statement, adding that Budapest needs “responsible and competent leaders”.

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