Lajos Kepli: It's a great achievement that economic forums now discuss environmental issues

Accompanying Executive Vice President Márton Gyöngyösi, MP Lajos Kepli also represented Jobbik in Eastern Central Europe’s most important business conference, the Krynica Economic Forum. As the vice chairman of the Hungarian Parliament’s Committee on Sustainable Development, the opposition MP participated in the panel discussion titled “Europe of the Carpathians” where he presented his position along with Polish, Ukrainian and Slovakian experts.

The panel discussed how the enormous natural treasures and the arising opportunities of the Carpathian region as a habitat could be preserved for the future generations. The MP pointed out to the participants of the forum that Hungary was highly vulnerable to whatever happened in the mountainous region embracing our country, as 90 per cent of our rivers originate from beyond Hungary’s current borders.

As an example, he mentioned that extensive deforestation in the different areas of the Carpathians always posed an increased threat of flooding in Hungary, adding that similar risks also lied in the environmentally inadequate mining technologies which had been responsible for the cyanide pollution of River Tisza.

As he put it, the natural water management unit of the Carpathians was artificially cut into pieces, resulting in the fact that the issue now requires a cooperation of seven different countries to solve the problems while it used to be a Hungarian domestic affair before the Trianon peace treaty. He added that the Carpathian treaty of 2003 fortunately gave a high priority to the preservation of this natural region, among other things.

Talking to Alfahir, Mr Kepli explained the enormous significance of environmental issues finally being addressed at a conference like Krynica, and participants seemed to have the common understanding that natural resources cannot be endlessly exploited. “We need to set barriers; economic growth cannot be the only factor to consider,” Jobbik’s environmental specialist politician declared.

Expressing his contentment that forum participants demonstrated a common Eastern Central European identity, he said this identity could fill any citizen of the region with self-awareness and pride. In his opinion, the region’s states play a key role in preserving cultural values, Christian traditions as well as the original natural environment, spearheading these efforts in Europe. Mr Kepli explained that the Carpathian Basin was the lung of Eastern Central Europe that’s why it was so important to protect the local forests, fauna and flora and preserve them for the future generations.

Noting that the UN had guidelines for mountain regions while the EU did not, the politician mentioned that certain conference participants, although half-seriously, did raise the idea for the European Union to form a similar regulation. Mr Kepli believes the idea should be seriously considered because there are many similar areas, both in the Eastern side and Europe as a whole,  which could be promoted by a common policy.

Such a specifically targeted funding and regulation system could help solve the problem of depopulation and economic deterioration in these areas, he said. Talking about the latter, he mentioned that business life tended to be quite different in these mountain areas and integration strategies for underdeveloped regions usually ignore the special difficulties of accessing towns and villages in territories with high rises.

Mr Kepli was disappointed that the Hungarian government had failed to keep sustainable growth on the positive track identified as the ideal goal at the conference in Poland. He said that the environmental authority was terminated in 2010, there are no independent institutions to perform similar tasks and the influence of the Ombudsman’s Office has been reduced in that regard, too.

He called it saddening that government members in charge of environment protection had very little say in environmental policies, even if they had some relevant expertise. It was typical that you had to go down to under-secretary of state level to find a politician who was actually an expert of environment protection. As he put it, the interests of the business players with ties to the government circles override the environmental aspects. In order for that to change, Hungary needs a new approach and a new government as well, Mr Kepli concluded.


Alfahí -