Complaint against Kövér, EP delegation disappointed, inbound flights banned from South Africa and Karácsony pulls back veto

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Opposition parties file complaint against László Kövér

Hungarian opposition parties filed a criminal complaint against László Kövér, the speaker of the Parliament.

"A report has been filed to the Central Chief Prosecution Office of Investigation concerning secret information gathering and the unauthorized use of concealed methods,” Tímea Szabó, group leader of small green opposition party Párbeszéd said Tuesday.

“Today we reported László Kövér for his speech prompting secret services to violate the law and incite against the opposition," she said.  "We are not the enemy of the country, Mr. Speaker,” she added.

Szabó also recalled the Pegasus scandal (it is common knowledge that the State acquired the Israeli spyware, which was found on the phones of critical journalists and business leaders), and tied it to the speech of Kövér leaked over the weekend, which had been recorded during a closed event last February.

Referring to Fidesz, Kövér said to leaders of secret services that "part of the Hungarian political class thinks in a self-governing state and a self-conscious nation, in which it believes and for which it works".

He then continued saying that “the other part of politics is acting in the spirit of the political tradition of a surrendering State and is constantly blaming itself”.

He then stressed that "I consider this latter political situation to be the most dangerous threat to national security that threatens Hungary today."

According to the opposition, by using these particular words Kövér has pointed to millions of people as a threat to national security.

Szabó also declared that Fidesz was trying to win next year's elections by illegal means, and also said that Kövér’s use of vocabulary and actions reminded her of those preferred by the communist dictatorship of the 50’s.

EP delegation: situation in Hungary deteriorated since 2018

The situation in Hungary has not improved since 2018, but rather has deteriorated, according to the delegation of the European Parliament on the situation of the rule of law.

During their three-day visit to Budapest, MEPs of the Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE) heard from civil society organizations working in the field of the protection of the rule of law, equal treatment, and minority and social rights. 

They also met journalists and representatives of outlets covering the whole media spectrum, as well as representatives from organizations working to defend press freedom.

MEPs came to Budapest, to gather information on the changes that have taken place since the adoption of the 2018 Sargentini report and are expected to make recommendations.

As they wrote, there are still serious concerns about threats to the independence of the judiciary and media freedom in Hungary.

Widespread corruption seems to have led to the emergence of a parallel State, which makes action almost impossible in the absence of an independent judiciary. The Pegasus scandal highlights increased state surveillance of activists, journalists and lawyers, according to the MEPs.

However, two members of the seven-member delegation, coming from the far right and the conservative groups, do not agree with the criticism.

LIBE members also informed that most of their discussions were constructive, although they were not welcomed by all negotiating partners, and the hostility towards the official delegation did not really foster open dialogue and sincere cooperation.

“Hungary stands by its current position: we have always respected European values, we have always complied with the rule of law, but we also expect the institutions in Brussels to do the same,” Minister of Justice Judit Varga wrote on her Facebook page.

She also added: “We call on the European Parliament to stop exerting political pressure and smear campaigns against our country. Instead of flouting its own rules, the EP must finally return to European values and leave the Member States alone!”

“Of course, we have no illusions but in any case, we look forward to the committee's report,” she concluded her post.

Omicron: Hungary also bans flights from African countries

The Hungarian government decided to join a number of other countries in restricting air travel from the southern part of the African continent, in an effort to contain the new variant of the coronavirus, Omicron.

The regulations, which took effect on Monday, cover seven countries: the Republic of Botswana, the Republic of South Africa, the Kingdom of Swaziland, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia and the Republic of Zimbabwe.

Hungarians returning home from the region or have visited the region in the two weeks prior to their arrival will have to be quarantined, according to a decree published in the Official Gazette of the government.

The Omicron, a more infectious coronavirus variant with surprisingly many mutations has been discovered in Africa. Following a sudden burst of news, countries around the world closed their borders to infected African countries, stocks of travel companies plummeted, and the WHO called for an extraordinary meeting on Friday.

The new variant was identified by a number of scientists to cause only mild symptoms and is therefore considered unnecessary to panic as a result of its discovery.

Virologist Miklos Rusvai said that if clinical tests prove that Omicron indeed does not cause severe symptoms, it could “Push out” the previous Delta variant, which is known to be very harmful.

“If it spreads faster, but causes less damage, then it would not be necessary to introduce new restrictions,” he said, adding that before the results of the clinical tests, caution was still in order.

He also said that the appearance of Omicron in Hungary was only a question of time.

The government also decided to extend its special vaccination action week, which started on Monday November 22, by another week, and after December 20, the vaccine against Covid-19 will be also available to children aged 5-12.

Speaking on public radio Friday morning, Prime Minister Orbán asked parents to vaccinate their smaller children as well.

As of Thursday, 6,138,885 people have received at least the first shot of a vaccine, while 5,852,417 had two jabs, and more than 2,609,385 got their booster shot, according to the government's coronavirus information website.

In the past 24 hours, 218 people have died from the disease, taking the toll to 34,931 in the country, while 902,000 have recovered. Currently, 7,450 patients are being treated in hospitals, including 795 on ventilators, the website said

Budapest Mayor Will Not Veto Athletics World Championship

After settling a dispute with the government over the financing of the Budapest city transport company BKV, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony agreed to pull back his veto of the Athletic World Championship.

In early September, Karácsony moved to veto the major sports event, in a bid to force the government’s hand in fulfilling its financial promises to the capital, and to sway from transferring land to Fudan University in the area where the Student City was originally planned.

Karácsony explained that both of his conditions were finally met by the government.

It is true that the healthcare grants were late, but they were finally transferred to the capital’s account by Tuesday, and the Fudan project was also on hold.

“I know for a fact that the government actually let this Fudan story go long ago. They let it go because the Chinese let them, as it is not worth so much to them,” he explained on commercial television ATV Tuesday evening.

Karácsony has agreed with the government on the financing of public transport in Budapest, after having met the Minister of Innovation and Technology (ITM) first thing Monday.

At the signal of the Ministry, the Hungarian State Treasury disbursed the HUF 12 billion annual budget support to the account of the Budapest Municipality on Monday, ITM informed in a statement.