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29th March, 2018

Residency permits also granted to suspected criminals



A wanted international criminal and a suspicious figure suspected of money laundering for the Assad regime, and their families, may have settled in Hungary as they have been granted residency permits through the government’s preferential residency bond scheme, the websites 444 and Direkt36 reported on Wednesday, citing information they received in an envelope from an anonymous sender more than two months ago.

The envelope contained a list of those nationals who have received a residency permit from the government under its preferential residency bond programme.

After being able to verify several names on the list from several sources, 444 and Direkt36 decided to only publish the names of those whose identification could be of public interest, 444 and Direkt36 said.

One of those is Salmo Bazkka, a Syrian man, whom the Italian authorities suspect of being a member of an international money laundering ring.

Another such person is Atiya Khoury, whom the US Treasury Department put on a sanction list for assisting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime in 2016, 444 and Direkt36 said. Khoury was instrumental in the financial transfers of the isolated Assad regime and may have helped it with obtaining fuel from the Islamic State, they added.

“It is not known when the two men bought the residency bonds – before the respective accusations or after those. Sources familiar with the Hungarian authorities’ administrative procedure said, however, that the screening of the bond buyers was superficial, in large part because of the high number of people that had to be checked,” the websites said.

The website 444 learnt that Bazkka, who had opened a money-changing kiosk near Blaha Lujza ter last autumn, and his two sons in their twenties were arrested last November. Hungarian police did not confirm that. Bazkka is in the custody of the Italian authorities at present, the websites said.

Direkt36 and 444 contacted Khoury via multiple channels before publishing its article, but they did not receive any response.

The Immigration and Refugee Affairs Office said the procedures for applying for residency bonds were in order: only 20 out of the 20,000 applicants were rejected because of national security or public safety concerns, 444 wrote. The Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office, run by Antal Rogan, did not respond.

Prime Minister’s Office head Janos Lazar reiterated Wednesday at a press conference that the four authorities involved in the residency bond-related screenings did vet every residency bond owner.

The Interior Ministry issued a statement on Wednesday, saying, without mentioning the news article, that the claims are pure fabrication and nothing else but a means to stoke pre-election public sentiment. (direkt36.hu; index.hu; 444.hu; hvg.hu)
29th March, 2018

Strong mandate needed to defend Hungary – Orban



A government with a strong mandate is needed to defend the country, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in an interview with Szolnok TV station on Tuesday night.

“Difficult years are ahead, filled with pressures. It would be good if the government could be strong again, thus our mandate would not only be sufficient to govern, but we would also have enough strength to defend the country,” he added.

Fidesz’s sweeping victory in 2014 made it possible for the government to stand up for Hungarian interests globally without concessions, he said.

“Should the government be less strong than it was, the migrants would have flooded us,” he added. “The electorate does not really see, cannot really see” any other political formation than the Fidesz-Christian Democratic alliance that “has the courage, the bravery and the commitment to defend the country,” he said.

The Hungarian government was the first to say in Europe that mass migration is bad and it not only said that it should be, but that it must be stopped, he stressed.

“We would never have thought that our way of life, which has grown out of Christian traditions, would ever be in danger,” he said.

“Our future depends on the way mass immigration is handled. What good is it to develop the country if it loses its Hungarian and Christian identity?” he said. (pestisracok.hu; hirado.hu)
29th March, 2018

Gyurcsany: either Europe or Orban



The most important election of the past 28 years is ahead as it will decide for quite some time whether Hungary will return to the main street of history or keep marching toward a cul de sac, Democratic Coalition president Ferenc Gyurcsany told a local forum in Budapest on Tuesday evening.

He said one must not play with history as it is stronger “than the prime minister who is showing off his political muscles” and than the prime minister’s supporters.

Gyurcsany recommended that the prime minister borrow a map of Europe from a fifth grader and see why Hungary has no other option than to join the European mainstream. The European mainstream represents freedom, democracy, civic life and peace, he said.

Either Europe or Orban, either life or a fall into nothing, that is at stake, he summed up his opinion. (infostart.hu; valasz.hu; mno.hu; index.hu; magyaridok.hu; nyugatifeny.hu)
29th March, 2018

Simicsko: Hungary to manufacture firearms again



Hungary will manufacture hand-held firearms for the infantry again, Defence Minister Istvan Simicsko and Czech Defence Minister Karla Slechtova announced in Budapest on Wednesday.

An agreement to that effect was signed by David Hofer, managing director of Ceska Zbrojovka Export company, and Roland Kranicz, managing director of the Hungarian Defence Ministry’s company HM Arzenal. The 10-year agreement is worth €100 million and is for about 200,000 firearms. The Czech armed forces will also receive some of the firearms to be manufactured in Hungary.

The assembly of firearms will begin in Hungary based on a Czech patent as the first step. Production of the firearms is planned to start in January, 2019. The project will create jobs for about 200 people.

Simicsko said the re-launch of arms production is a milestone in the upgrade of the Hungarian armed forces. The project will be part of the development of the Visegrad Four countries’ defence capabilities and carried out in co-operation, the minister said.

In the late 1980s as many as 30,000 people worked in the Hungarian military industry. That dropped to about 1,000 after the change of the political regime, he said.

There are Hungarian companies that manufacture weapons, but those are typically small firms that serve niche markets, the minister said. (index.hu; 168ora.hu; origo.hu; hirado.hu; propeller.hu; napi.hu)


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