An unprecedented affair: even secret services fail to show up for National Security Committee meeting on Strache scandal

To investigate the Hungarian implications of the Strache scandal, Hungarian opposition MPs convened a meeting of the Parliament’s National Security Committee but it had no quorum as Fidesz MPs failed to show up for the umpteenth time. What raises even more concerns is that this time the intelligence services were not represented either, said Jobbik MP and committee chairman Ádám Mirkóczki. He also stated that their absence violated Article 14 of the national security act – and his statement was supported by Socialist MP Zsolt Molnár and LMP’s Péter Ungár, too.

Mr Mirkóczki posed the question: how could the intelligence services possibly know that the committee meeting was not going to have quorum? He noted it was the lowest point of Hungary’s parliamentary democracy since it was the first time that the representatives of the intelligence services failed to show up for a lawfully convened meeting.

The attending committee members agreed to write an official letter to the Ministers in charge of the services, i.e., Péter Szíjjártó and Sándor Pintér, demanding an explanation as to how this could happen and whether the services were suggested, or perhaps instructed to stay away from the meeting. The letter will also be forwarded to Speaker László Kövér, asking him what opposition MPs are supposed to do in a situation where the governing party’s MPs, now joined by the secret services, keep boycotting the national security committee meetings, which practically renders the body useless and the Speaker may as well dissolve or terminate it.

According to Mr Mirkóczki, the governing party no longer seems to be bothered to at least show the bare minimum of cooperation. Jobbik’s MP considers this affair as the largest scandal of the past years since civilian control over the intelligence services seems to have been lost and Hungary has sunk below the level of banana republics.

Black milestone

After the meeting, the opposition MPs held a joint press conference, where Mr Mirkóczki noted that in any normal country the cabinet ministers’ heads would roll if the intelligence services under their supervision failed to show up for the Parliament’s national security committee meeting. He called the event unprecedented and a black milestone.

Socialist MP Zsolt Molnár asserted that the time of quasi-democracy was apparently over and the government had just switched to full authoritarian mode. He urged voters to cast their ballots for the opposition forces on Sunday. Talking about the Strache scandal, LMP’s Péter Ungár said he was not surprised that Hungary had been mentioned in the leaked video in connection with Russia. Mr Ungár referred to the Paks 2 nuclear power plant as a significant national security risk and a sign that Fidesz was still unwilling to stop Moscow.

In a press release submitted to MTI Hungarian News Agency a few minutes before the meeting started, Fidesz emphasized that it was the Socialists who had business deals with Heinrich Pecina when they sold their share in their own daily paper Népszabadság to the Austrian businessman for HUF 1.5 billion. If the opposition wants to investigate something, that’s what they should focus on, Fidesz wrote, adding that “the governing parties’ MPs will not assist the opposition in their campaign event today”. 

In the Ibiza video recording which triggered the Strache scandal, the Austrian Freedom Party’s (FPÖ) politician identified Orbán’s positions in the Hungarian media as a desirable goal and recommended his Russian clients to employ Heinrich Pecina as a strawman. Heinz-Christian Strache suggested that Pecina should use the Russians’ money to buy Austria’s Kronen Zeitung and alter the paper’s editorial position to support FPÖ. After the video was published, Strache resigned as vice chancellor and even the Austrian governing coalition has collapsed since.


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