If former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány (2004-2009) is correct, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán means to “politically execute” his party, the Democratic Coalition (DK). The story in the background is a controversial European Union contract with an international group of companies headed by Altus, a company owned by Gyurcsány.
Last year an international consortium led by Altus was one of the contractors selected by the European Commission to undertake studies related to the future development of cohesion and regional policy. The consortium will provide an overview of the implementation of the new provisions of the new reformed regional policy for 2014 to 2020, with the study covering programmes for all 28 EU member states. According to the media, Altus and its consortium received EUR 5 million for this task from Brussels.
For Orbán and governing party Fidesz the contract absolutely goes against the grain. Fidesz legal expert Gergely Gulyás hinted that DK was therefore being illegally financed through the EU millions received by Altus. Minister in charge of the Prime Minister`s Office János Lázár agreed.
In an interview with pro-government daily newspaper Napi Gazdaság Gulyás denied that Fidesz’s aim is to stop the funds that flow to DK as part of the state party financing. He said such action would not be in accordance with the present law. This was why Fidesz was suggesting a parliamentary debate to determine whether there was “incompatibility’ between Altus and DK.
Orbán took on a patronising tone at a press conference to take a swipe at his arch-enemy Gyurcsány (Orbán, to a staffer in the background: “What is the name of this great party?” Answer: “Democratic Coalition.” Orbán: “And what is the name of the company again?” Answer: “Altus” [Altus means “high” or “deep” in Latin]. Orbán: “Altus, exactly.”)
The prime minister pointed out that the connection between Altus and DK raises the problem of “illegal party financing”. Orbán: “There has never been such a case in the history of democratic Hungary before that we are suspecting now, when a party of the opposition is being financed from EU funds.”
Gyurcsány told a press conference in Brussels that the things the Prime Minister and his party are suggesting are completely “absurd”, namely the possibility of an indirect financing of the Democratic Coalition by Brussels.
He said Orbán is “paranoid” and needs urgent “treatment”. Gyurcsány pointed out that Orbán’s son-in-law, István Tiborcz, was able to book a “higher profit margin” by winning an open tender than Altus with the EU contract. Tiborcz until recently owned a company that manufactures lighting for public spaces. The company has won a remarkable number of domestic public contracts.
Klára Dobrev, the director of Altus and Gyurcsány’s wife, said the company`s activity is exclusively limited to foreign and international projects. She said her husband does not take part in Altus’ operative business. Dobrev reacted sharply in saying “the words of the government head do not reflect the reality”, and therefore Altus would sue Orbán. Moreover, she and her company expected an apology from him.