Government to drown the affairs of the Moscow visa factory and Ghaith Pharaon in swamp of bureaucracy

In today’s meeting of the Hungarian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, state secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade dr. Csaba Balogh had to face the music when he was showered with tough questions. However, the public was denied an insight into the abnormal operation of Hungarian consular services as the Ministry’s representative wriggled like an eel out of the grasp of such issues as the  Pharaon affair and Szilárd Kiss’ Moscow visa factory.

In his press conference held after the meeting urged for so long by the opposition, Jobbik MP Márton Gyöngyösi, the Committee’s vice chairman said that the MPs had not been given real answers to their questions posed in the public part of an otherwise closed hearing.

Jobbik’s foreign policy specialist explained that the Foreign Ministry and the Interior Ministry had constantly been pointing fingers at each other in relation with the Pharaon affair and the Moscow visa scandal, which prevented MPs from exercising a proper control of the government’s activities. “We ask specific questions but we don’t get specific answers,” Mr Gyöngyösi emphasized.

The representative of the largest opposition party noted that as far as the Ghaith Pharaon affair was concerned, an individual wanted by the FBI for such a crime as financing terrorism somehow managed to “slip through the consular net” and obtained a Hungarian visa, travelled into our country multiple times and conducted extensive business activities here – with the Prime Minister’s son-in-law, among others. Still, we don’t know “how he could get in the country and make his way to the environment of the PM and other government members”.

In Mr Gyöngyösi’s view, the Szilárd Kiss affair is equally mysterious since the Moscow visa factory operated by this individual conducted its activities under the constant threat/influence of the consuls working there. The result was that four thousand Russian citizens were granted Hungarian visas without supplying any private data, appearing in person or any control whatsoever, within just a few hours.

Talking about the second case, Mr Gyöngyösi emphasized that the individuals who were granted visas used Hungary as some kind of a stepping stone so that they could travel further on to other Schengen countries. “Considering that, we can very well raise the question whether Hungary’s business-economic interests justified granting so many visas in such a short time,” noted Jobbik’s MP, expressing his concern about the serious national security risk and the strong suspicion of corruption related to this kind of operation. He added that “we may raise the question to what extent the various secret services use Hungarian consulates to get into Schengen territory so that they could conduct clandestine activities in Hungary as well as in other countries?”


Mr Gyöngyösi was not given real answers to the following questions in the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee:

- If the performance of the Hungarian consular services are truly so outstanding that it is highly acclaimed domestically and abroad alike, how could a man wanted by the FBI and the Interpol slip through the net of the Beirut consulate and the Hungarian foreign service?

- When Ghaith Pharaon’s visa application was submitted through Hungary’s Beirut consulate, was Mr Pharaon’s wish to meet Hungary PM Viktor Orbán articulated in the consul’s motion and the visa application? This is a yes/no question. 

- Did the consulate go beyond the normal consular activities to aid Mr Pharaon’s travel into Hungary? Is this effort registered in some way in the consular system?

- How does Hungary decide in which countries it exercises its right to overrule certain visa decisions?

- Why doesn’t Hungary investigate certain countries’ citizens more intensively, especially if the particular country poses an outstanding risk in terms of international terrorism and migration?

- Beside Moscow, where else does Hungary’s foreign ministry operate visa factories?

- Is this an isolated case or is it the standard practice under the current leadership of the Foreign Affairs Ministry?


Alfahí -