Budapest’s new mayor seeks partnership with govt

Budapest’s new leadership is ready to develop a partnership with the government, mayor-elect Gergely Karacsony said on Wednesday.

Karacsony told an international press conference that he would ask for a personal meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Orban after he enters office on Friday.

Karacsony also said that he would invite all opposition mayors in October to set up a so-called alliance of free cities. He also said that he would ask the rector of the Central European University in writing to keep as many activities in Budapest as possible under Hungary’s higher education law.

Karacsony said he was planning to maintain partnerships and that outgoing Mayor Istvan Tarlos was an “extremely correct partner” during the preparations for handing over his post.

The inaugural meeting of the new General Assembly is expected to discuss a package based on the recommendations of anti-corruption NGOs focusing on transparency, social and green issues, Karacsony said. Following the example of other large cities around the world, Budapest plans to declare a climate emergency as a symbolic measure, he added. Budapest’s new leadership will pay significantly more attention to climate change than its predecessor, he said.

As part of the social package, preparations will be started to make public transport free of charge for young people under the age of 14, Karacsony said. Before the end of this year public transport will be made free for children under 7 as against the current age limit of 6 and registered jobseekers will also be allowed to travel free of charge, he added.

Immediate measures are planned concerning development projects in the City Park and the Romai embankment, he said. He added that municipal companies would be prohibited from exercising provisions in the “slave law”, referring to amendments to the Labour Code affecting overtime approved by lawmakers last December. He promised to initiate the establishment of a conciliation council for the capital.

In response to a question, Karacsony said he would raise the issue of Budapest’s underfinancing when meeting with the government. He added that Budapest suffered from high debt and state consolidation would be the only way out.

He said he disagreed with stadium construction projects of the past and would not support new projects because of their “stellar costs” and because they took away areas from Budapest that should instead be “turned green”.

He promised to increase resources for homeless services and to set up new accommodation options in the medium term in order to provide better conditions than homeless shelters.

Karacsony said a new strategy would be drafted to deal with overtourism in Budapest, adding that regulations on tourist buses and boats should be rethought. He said a prohibition on docking cruise ships in the city as well as on sight-seeing boats could be weighed.

Speaking to Hir TV at the Fidesz group meeting, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the people voted for Karacsony hoping that he will lead Budapest better than Tarlos did. Orban said his only task is to guarantee the necessary conditions for that. The prime minister stressed that Hungary is a democracy, the people expect their leaders to cooperate for their sake.

Source and photo: MTI

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