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Orbán, Tarlós to co-chair Budapest Development Council

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Budapest Mayor István Tarlós announced plans Wednesday to establish a body to coordinate big investments in the capital, which they will co-chair. The move was among what Orbán said were “strict conditions” Tarlós laid down before accepting his request to run for a third consecutive term in next yearʼs municipal elections.

Mayor Tarlós listens while PM Orbán speaks (photo: Károly Árvai / kormany.hu)

Some of the investments the new Budapest Development Council will coordinate will run until 2030, Orbán was cited as saying by official government website kormany.hu. He added that an agreement had also been reached on tens of billions of forints of funding necessary for the renovation of the capitalʼs Metro Line M3.

The prime minister said investments of more than HUF 280 billion have been completed in the capital so far, with additional projects worth over HUF 600 bln underway. The inclusion of transport developments raises that figure to HUF 700 bln, he added. 

From among the already completed projects, Orbán mentioned the reconstruction of the ice skating rink in Városliget and the National Riding Hall, and the refurbishment of the Buda Vigadó, the Dagály swimming complex, the Liszt Academy of Music, and the Tomb of Gül Baba. From among projects that are currently under way, he made mention of the refurbishment of the Buda Castle District, the Fiumei út cemetery, and the Jewish cemetery on Salgótarjáni út, as well as the renovation of the State Opera House and a new athletics stadium to be built according to plans.

“We all have a vested interest in Budapest regaining its old glory. The government itself is convinced that Hungary can only be a serious country if its capital, too, undertakes serious endeavours,” Orbán said. He noted that the government had taken over more than HUF 217 bln in debt from the Budapest Municipality.  

Tarlós said funding for the metro renewal, as well as a commitment to keep the capitalʼs utilities companies under ownership of the city council, would be outlined in an agreement with the government and governing party Fidesz. Details of the agreement will be revealed after its signing on November 17, he added. 

Tarlós said Balázs Fürjes, the state secretary for greater Budapest, would be deputy head of the Budapest Development Council, whose members would also include Gergely Gulyás, currently minister in charge of the Prime Ministerʼs Office, as well as Minister for Innovation and Technology László Palkovics, among others.

Karácsony mulls run for mayor

Meanwhile, current affairs news site hvg.hu reported that Gergely Karácsony, leader of green party Párbeszéd (Dialogue for Hungary), mayor of the cityʼs Zugló district, and unsuccessful Socialist-Párbeszéd candidate for prime minister at the recent general elections in April, would consider running for mayor against the incumbent provided “a normal pre-election” process were to be held to find a candidate to challenge Tarlós.

Socialist MP Zsolt Molnár was cited as saying by hvg.hu that the Socialists, Párbeszéd and opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) would all like such a pre-election process, in which the citizens of Budapest would choose whom to put forward as their challenger, prior to the mayoral election in the fall of 2019.

Molnár said they would aim to begin the process within a month, adding that while not counting on the help of right-wing party Jobbik, due to its incompatible values, he would expect the opposition Momentum and LMP to be open to such an initiative.