The conditions of the detention of Italian Ilaria Salis meet all European and Hungarian standards, she has access to interpreting, and is allowed visits, Gergely Gulyás, head of the Prime Minister’s Office said on Thursday.
The interior ministry has arranged for 140,000 teachers to receive the documents needed for the over 30 per cent pay rise within less than two weeks, Gulyás said, adding that teachers at public schools would receive their increased wages by Monday at the latest.
Gulyás stated the 32.2 per cent wage hike will see teachers’ gross average monthly wages rise to 652,000 forints (EUR 1,700) or 71.8 per cent of the average wage of university degree holders, Gulyás said. The minister stressed the wage hike was financed from the central budget, but the European Union had promised to reimburse the government. The cabinet has vowed to increase teachers’ salaries to 80 per cent of the average salary of those with higher education by 2030, with the EU covering 12 per cent of the pay hikes, he added. Concerning teachers’ unions, Gulyás said they had to be ‘handled carefully’ because ‘it is not easy to determine if they promote teachers’ interests or work against them, as they had done everything at international forums to prevent the pay hike.’
On another subject, Gulyás declared Hungary’s health service would continue to offer screening babies for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). He said the central budget had allocated a total of 450 million forints (EUR 1.17m) for this purpose in 2024. Gulyás added the screenings would continue to be offered at Szeged University, at Budapest’s Semmelweis University, and at the Bethesda Children’s Hospital in Budapest ‘to any baby if requested’ by the parents.
Gulyás said that the government had authorized the Minister of Transport to work out the details of the rules on public transport passes, based on an agreement between the government and the Budapest Municipality. He said the changes, which will come into force from 1 March, ‘will benefit everybody’. Public transport passes for the greater Budapest area and country passes will be valid for services in the capital. In contrast, the Budapest pass will be valid for the national railway, regional and national coach service company Volán, and suburban HÉV trains.
Concerning press reports suggesting that an Italian defendant charged with participation in last year’s Antifa attacks in Budapest is being held in demeaning conditions in a Budapest prison, Gulyás said all detention conditions meet European Union and Hungarian standards. Inmates are given three meals a day, he stressed, dismissing the claim that prison cells are rat-infested, adding that Hungarian prisons are hygienic, as attested by the fact that there has been no mass COVID infections in Hungarian detention centres. Foreign inmates are also informed of prison rules in their mother tongue upon admission. He declared that the reports had been aimed at casting Hungary in an unfavourable light and were misleading, and he also suggested that the Italian defendant was ‘untrustworthy’, highlighting that she had lied about her qualifications, marital status, and personal relationships during the interrogations. Salis also claimed she is not allowed visits, whereas her family members had visited her seven times since last October, Gulyás reminded.
The defendant, he noted, faces a possible sentence of 11 years’ imprisonment
for deliberately causing life-threatening injuries. He confirmed that Prime Minister Orbán had talks with Italian counterpart Georgia Meloni on Wednesday evening, and gave her a full briefing on the proceedings. He said the two heads of government had always had a good relationship, and they made it clear that the issue at hand ‘is not a personal conflict’.
When asked about whether the fact that Viktor Orbán did agree after all to the aid to Ukraine being disbursed from the EU budget, Gulyás said the PM himself would explain the circumstances and rationale behind the decision, as the ‘conclusion of the talks and an agreement were not clear this [Thursday] morning’.
Referring to the European parliamentary elections, Gulyás said Hungary would ‘gain a great deal’ if it had ‘MEPs promoting the Hungarian interest’ after the elections, and he criticized Hungary’s leftist parties for engaging in the opposite. Fidesz will finalize the party’s EP list before the end of this week, Gulyás announced.
Concerning farmer protests in several European countries, Gulyás noted: ‘Europe does not have the wisdom of the Hungarian government,’ and he noted that Orbán had met protesting farmers in Brussels ‘spontaneously’ on his way to meet the former Polish Prime Minister. Orbán was ‘the only premier to speak with the protesters,’ he underscored.
Sources: Hungarian Conservative/MTI