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Péter Szijjártó (L) and Arne Gobert

It is no coincidence that recently Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó had complained about German companies being discouraged from investing in Hungary through a political and media campaign in Germany and in European forums. When the European Parliament’s (EP) Committee on Budgetary Control (CONT) held a hearing on Tuesday into allegations of discrimination against German firms and companies in tendering procedures in Hungary, the president of the German Economic Club was not allowed to present his assessment at all, reported hirado.hu.

The accusations concerning Hungary were presented to the committee by Martin József, director of the fiercely anti-government political lobby NGO, Transparency International. According to Martin, who went on a ten minute rant against the government in Budapest based on the complaints of unnamed German companies, “the Hungarian state is a prisoner of systemic corruption”. Following this, the EP committee, did not even allow the president of the German Economic Club, which brings together German firms and companies operating in Hungary, to speak on the matter.

German Companies Investing in Hungary Are Being Bullied
German Companies Investing in Hungary Are Being Bullied

The politically motivated campaign is already turning into emotional blackmail, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó warns.Continue reading

What happened at the European Parliament committee meeting reminds me of other times, but certainly not of democracy,

said business lawyer Arne Gobert, president of the German Economic Club, in Brussels on Tuesday, after the European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee (CONT) launched its new attack on Hungary.

Speaking to the press, Arne Gobert said that as a businessman who has lived and worked in Hungary for twenty-five years, he wanted to share his experience with European politicians. He said he had a short five-minute conversation with CONT President Monika Hohlmeier (EPP) before the meeting, but she refused to allow him to speak. The German politician justified her refusal by saying that she “already had sufficient information on the situation in Hungary”.

Gobert pointed out that the preliminary information material sent out by CONT was extremely biased. He wanted to say that every year new German companies invest in Hungary and that they are generally satisfied with the mutual cooperation.

In my view, there is no negative perception of Hungary at all. We have some industries where there are disputes on certain issues, but I think that these issues, if they are really important, should be taken to the courts and not to the EP committees.

– the German expert pointed out.

He also recalled that in the CONT’s briefing, a German company was mentioned that had not received a building permit. However, “in this case there is no dispute, there is no official case, so it is a case of hearsay allegations, accusations. This is not enough,” the lawyer pointed out.

As for the cooperation between the Hungarian government and German industry, Gobert said that “in every country there are disputes, which is normal, because governments deal with certain issues differently from the economic side”.

“We represent companies in litigation. If you look at the litigation statistics, it is not one-sided: sometimes the government loses, sometimes the companies lose, because these are legal issues,” he stressed, adding that this is why we have democracy and a legal system to go through and promote claims.

Asked if the German Business Club would issue a statement refuting the accusations made by Transparency and CONT, Arne Gobert pointed out that the media often does not accept positive news about Hungary. “We can talk to the media in Hungary. In fact, it was because of this situation that we created Dialogue Hungary to have discussions between business people in Germany and Hungary, because we realized that

if we talk too positively about the Hungarian situation in the German press, they do not believe us at all and do not publish our statements,

he said.

Gobert recalled that years ago, the last time Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Budapest, he was approached by RTL to do a report with her. “For about an hour, they asked me the same question over and over again in different contexts to get an answer that they could put in a negative perspective. But they failed,” he recalled.

After the interview, the journalist said “it was a very good interview and we are very happy to have heard a positive voice because all the other opinions were negative”. It was originally going to be shown on the 8pm news, then the editor sent a text message saying they had a lot of material and it would only be on the nightly news. But the story continued even before the nightly news, when another text message was received from the editor apologizing that Gobert had been too positive about Hungary and therefore the report would not be published.

Via hirado.hu, Featured Image: MTI/Kovács Attila

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