A few days ago I read with great interest that the mayor of Óbarok, the village next to the famed Felcsút, which received the most EU subsidies in the country, announced his intention to resign “for the good of the village.” Mihály Borbíró, an independent who has served the village for almost twelve years, believes that because he is not a Fidesz man Óbarok is being deprived financially. The village hasn’t received a penny from the subsidies allotted to Hungary from the European Union. Last year they asked for 10 million forints to renovate the kindergarten and 15 million for roadbuilding but got nothing. Óbarok, with a population of 800, is about half the size of Felcsút, but while Felcsút with 1,700 inhabitants received 600 million forints in EU assistance between 2009 and 2015 Óbarok got 25 million in 2011. Period. This is what normally happens in Orbán’s Hungary if the townspeople elect the “wrong” man.
The exorbitant size of EU subsidies for Felcsút is not the only thing that is suspicious. An incredible amount of agricultural land owned by the Hungarian state and leased on a long-term basis until now was auctioned off. Lőrinc Mészáros, Orbán’s alter ego, and Orbán’s in-laws bought more than their “fair share.” The purchase of land by the Mészáros family as well as others close to Orbán has been going on for some time, but when an investigative journalist tried to take a look at the data regarding land ownership in Felcsút he was turned away, despite the fact that such information is public.
And now to the latest on the Habsburg front. There is no question that Viktor Orbán is fascinated with the Hungarian Habsburg summer palace only a few kilometers from Felcsút. Another building from the original complex built by Archduke Joseph in the 1820s–a structure called “Mosóház” (washing house), which is of historical significance under special protection–was purchased by the Felcsúti Utánpótlás Neveléséért Alapítvány (Foundation for the Education of Future Champions). Although some newspapers announced the purchase as an acquisition by “Mészáros’s foundation,” the foundation was actually established by Viktor Orbán in 2006, if I’m not mistaken, with only 100,000 forints.
The story of this purchase is peculiar, as is almost everything connected to Orbán, Mészáros, and Felcsút. Until December the building belonged to the real estate company Artemis, owned by Henryk Marian Andrew Bukowski, a company with interests in the UK and Poland. Orbán’s foundation purchased not just the building but Artemis itself for 70 million forints. Artemis’s status was changed from profit to non-profit, and the company was moved from Budapest to Felcsút.
I should also note that the building is at the terminus of the five-kilometer run of the narrow-gauge railway that was reconstructed at great expense by the foundation.
Earlier I reported on the agricultural land that Mészáros and family have purchased recently. It is considered to be a good-size estate by Hungarian standards. The Mészáros family now owns over 1,400 hectares, or approximately 3,450 acres. The size of this acquisition is especially glaring if you look at all recent land purchases in Fejér County. Most of the land was sold in relatively small lots, between 20 and 200 hectares (40% of all auctioned off lands). These smaller lots were purchased by 90 individuals. The Mészáros family bought 8.3% of all the land auctioned off in Fejér County. Or, put another way, the total amount of land sold was 17,000 hectares, out of which the Mészároses got 1,425 hectares. The price was 1.9 billion forints.
This is land that Mészáros owns outright. Lately he also acquired the former Herceghalmi Kísérleti Gazdaság Zrt., now called Agrosystem Zrt., which leases 3,960 hectares of agricultural land from the Nemzeti Földalapkezelő (NFA/National Land Administration). Such leases are usually for 25 years, but Agrosystem was awarded a 50-year lease back in 2001. Note the date. This decision was reached in the last year of the first Orbán government.
A few hours ago Zsolt Gréczy, spokesman for the Demokratikus Koalíció, upon hearing that Orbán’s foundation had purchased the historic Mosóház of the former Habsburg estate, reaffirmed his party’s determination that after the fall of the Orbán regime “both those who concocted these suspicious, immoral, dishonorable, underpriced contracts and their beneficiaries will be called to account in the court of law.” As far as DK is concerned, all property currently in Mészáros’s name actually belongs to Viktor Orbán since in their opinion Mészáros is a front man and Viktor Orbán a billionaire.
Meanwhile, Mészáros is busy. He was just awarded a new contract. His company will build a school and sports facility in Dunakeszi, a 3.5 billion forint project. His company was also entrusted with the renovation of the Nemzeti Lovarda (National Riding School) in the Castle District in Buda and the renovation of the palace of the bishop of Szombathely. The latest is that he is trying his hand at a car dealership with headquarters in Felcsút.
When will this all end and how? When will the Hungarian people say: “That’s it! We will no longer tolerate your brazen plundering of our country.”