European Parliament condemns Hungarian Foreign Minister over talks with Belarus

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European Parliament condemns Szijjarto for negotiating with Belarus

The European Parliament condemned Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó in a resolution for defying EU policy over talks with Belarus. The EP's resolution details the crimes committed by the Lukashenka regime. MEPs condemn in the strongest possible terms "the ongoing unrestrained repression and systematic and widespread human rights violations by the Lukashenka regime, including numerous cases of ill-treatment and torture, as well as the total isolation and inadequate medical treatment of political prisoners and other politically persecuted persons, such as journalists, human rights defenders, independent trade unionists, and others".

The document also includes a line on Szijjártó: "We find the official visit of the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade to Minsk in February 2023 unfortunate, which contradicts the EU policy on Belarus, Russia, and the aggressive war against Ukraine."

Tamás Menczer, the foreign ministry's state secretary commended the EP's statements on Thursday calling the legislative body "pro-war". In his video, Menczer said they condemned Szijjártó for "being pro-peace". According to Menczer, the trip to Minsk was justified because communication channels should not be cut off in times of war, and Szijjarto also had to take energy security considerations into account.

Orban says he plans to stay in power until, 2034

Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, who is serving his fourth consecutive term, says he plans to rule Hungary until 2034, Telex reports. Orban has publicly indicated several times since the 2018 elections that he plans to remain in power until 2030, but now his goal is 2034, which he explained with the war and the coronavirus epidemic have taken four years away.

In his speech at the Kötcse Civic Picnic, Orbán also pointed out that, while the government's popularity had declined recently, it is still in a better position than other European governing parties. He cited the example of Germany, where the opposition parties are now "more popular than the governing parties". The prime minister cited economic difficulties as the main reason for Fidesz's loss of popularity, saying that "society is used to continuous growth". In his speech, the far-right prime minister unveiled a 15-point plan to strengthen Hungary, including a boost in fertility rates and an effort to substitute Russian nuclear fuel.

Companies linked to Fidesz profit from the recruitment of migrant workers outside the EU

Employment agencies with ties to the ruling party Fidesz are recruiting migrant workers overseas on behalf of Hungarian employers, a Hungarian investigative outlet Átlátszó reveals. Viktor Orban's party has been vocal about their anti-migrant policies, which critics often labeled as xenophobic rhetoric. 

The Hungarian Parliament passed a bill in 2021 that allows select companies to hire workers from third countries without the permit required for such recruitment. Amongst a labor shortage, many companies in Hungary announced they are filling vacancies with workers outside the EU, such as Ukraine, Serbia, India, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, and Indonesia. Among the recruiters is a business partner of the brother Fidesz MEP Tamás Deutsch and the vice-president of the publicly funded Rákóczi Szövetség, a cross-border cultural organization working with ethnic Hungarians.

Orbán plans to gain influence in Brussels through think-tank

Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC), a government-funded residential college, whose views are entirely in line with the government’s conservative, nationalist ideology, is one of the tools the Hungarian government wants to gain influence in Brussels, FTM reports. MCC has massive financial backing, receiving more than $1,7 billion in state funding in 2020. The Orban government gave the foundation shares in the multinational Hungarian oil and gas company MOL and Gedeon Richter Pharmaceuticals, the country’s two most valuable companies after the OTP Bank. MCC’s annual reports do not show how much money is channeled to the Brussels branch. 

John Morijn, a professor of law and politics at the University of Groningen, told the investigative outlet, that the administrative and financial structure of the foundations set up by the Orbán government has been designed to evade supervision. "That is how Viktor Orbán and his consorts are attempting to circumvent the conditions attached to receiving European money." Under the new legislation, these foundations no longer fall under the supervision of the Hungarian Court of Auditors and do not have to provide information requested by citizens or journalists. According to the report, the Brussels-based think tank fits into the Orban government’s "soft power strategy", which has been in progress for some time.

According to Eric Hendricks (a former guest lecturer at MCC ), a culture war is happening and it is necessary to create "confusion around true and false, good and bad". The Hungarian PM has also been vocal about the aim of his government’s program of international soft-power outreach. “This war is a culture war,” he told last year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas.