Hungary waiting in the wings on IMF deal, says Varga

EU

Hungary has been waiting in the wings to start talks on IMF/EU financial aid "for quite a long time by now," Mihály Varga, head of the prime minister's office, told public television on Wednesday.

In an interview with m1's "This Morning" program, the state secretary said several months had passed since Tamás Fellegi, Hungary's chief negotiator on the financial aid, held talks in January, and Hungary had moved no closer to the start of official negotiations.

He said the International Monetary Fund was keeping one eye on the European Union and its expectations of Hungary while the EU was looking to the European Central Bank for the same reason.

Varga insisted there should be no obstacle in the way of the start of official talks. He said Hungary could make sovereign initiatives which do not clash with the basic values of the EU. If there are disputes over this then Hungary would clearly turn to the courts, he added.

The logjam was to do with various issues getting mixed up, he said, noting the deficit procedure launched against Hungary, the infringement procedure, and the set of preconditions for talks to begin. Varga said Hungary did not want these three strands to get intertwined; the precondition for a financial agreement should not have to involve the question of what age judges retire at, he said.

A complicating factor from Hungary's point of view appears to be the country's membership in the EU, he said. Egypt had turned to the IMF just as Hungary has done and signed an deal, he added.

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