Government spokesperson Alexandra Szentkirályi held a press briefing on Facebook on Wednesday, to comment on the developments in the Russo-Ukrainian war. She noted that the fighting in the neighbouring country is becoming more and more worrying. She added that this concern is only increased by news about more weapons-shipments and the possibility of a nuclear war, emphasising that the nuclear superpowers threatening each other this close to Hungary is extremely worrisome.
She said: ‘We all know that if it comes to a world war, it is going to be nuclear,’ adding that she trusts that there soon will be news about a ceasefire or a peace treaty. She said that the situation is continuously weighing more and more on the government, since the Hungarian administration is striving to keep Hungary out of the conflict. The spokesperson added that the negative impact of the war also need to be addressed: the sanctions, and the high energy prices and inflation caused by them. She reiterated that Hungary
still does not and will not ship weapons to Ukraine
or allow other countries to ship weapons through its territory.
She stressed that the security of Hungary remains a priority regardless, therefore the government is boosting the number and the quality of the equipment of the Hungarian Defence Forces. She reminded that
Hungary is acquiring ammunition and increasing capacities to manufacture it as well.
Regarding Ukrainian grain shipments, she reminded that grain from Ukraine got ‘stuck’ in Hungary and neighbouring countries because Brussels refuses to act. The spokesperson insisted that the large amount of external grain is ruining Hungarian farmers. She emphasised that Hungarian families should only have bread on their table made from the best quality flour available, which is one of the reasons why the government is banning the import of Ukrainian grain whose quality does not meet EU standards.
Talking about the price caps and the newly introduced discount rules, she said the act was introduced to protect consumers from ‘the price increase caused by sanctions.’ About the discounts she said: every week there will be discounted prices on the 20 most important foodstuffs in stores. From the 20 categories, at least one product must be discounted by 10 per cent and these prices must be shown at the entrance of a store and in the promotional newspapers.
As for the discounted county and country passes, she said that as of May, new passes can be purchased for all transportation means outside Budapest. She noted that the large family discount also applies to parents even if the children travel with a country pass.
Regarding the child protection law, she reiterated that the government will defend Hungary’s and the Hungarian people’s position on this issue. She referred to last year’s child protection referendum, where an overwhelming majority voted that ‘children, kindergartens, and schools should be protected from LGBTQ propaganda.’ ‘We know well that this is a strong ideological attack against our country. We will not shy away from further debates, on the contrary: due to the recent violent incidents in schools, the government has decided that further measures are needed to protect children’, she added.
Commenting on the controversial draft law regulating the official status of teachers, she said that professional consultations have been ongoing for a month and a half with the professional organisations of educators on various measures to support public education and a new career path for teachers. She argued that the changes proposed by the government aim to create a more advantageous career path for teachers and also serves the improvement of the quality of public education.
In education, children come first, and
it is important that those who teach them receive the recognition they deserve,
so they can expect further wage increases and a simplified career advancement, she emphasised.
Alexandra Szentkirályi recalled that the government is carrying out the largest raise of teacher salaries since the regime change, and as soon as Brussels disburses the EU funds Hungary is entitled to, the government will proceed with the hiking of teacher wages. She added that the Hungarian political left, however, is doing everything in its power to prevent the payment of EU funds.
Regarding the salary increase of healthcare workers, she said that multi-round wage increases in the sector are being implemented, for both doctors and paramedics.
Reflecting on the financial situation of the capital, she said that when Gergely Karácsony took over the leadership of the city from István Tarlós, the former Fidesz-backed mayor, Budapest had savings of over 200 billion forints. According to the government spokesperson, ‘the city spent the savings and now blames the government and prepares for austerity measures. ‘[DK President] Ferenc Gyurcsány has made it clear that the mayor of Budapest is not engaging enough in the fight against the government, so the mayor is now heeding the call and starting a fight against the administration,’ Alexandra Szentkirályi opined.