state property; gift; castle; distribution;
The state gifting of castles, castles, and mansions can start already in the summer. There is no list, any can be taken freely, even those renovated for billions, and all that is required is an application, which is judged by János Lázár. Following in the footsteps of István Tiborcz and Lőrinc Mészáros, many NER heroes obviously want their own castle.
Even last year, almost four billion forints worth of EU funds were spent on the renovation of those castles, castles and mansions, which, according to a draft law submitted a few days ago, would be distributed free of charge by Minister of Construction János Lázár. According to last year’s report of the National Heritage Protection Development (NÖF) Nonprofit Kft., which is entrusted with the management of the property, the net book value of the real estate and artefacts planned to be given away, not even put on the market, is barely HUF 16.5 billion.
The amount is quite small, especially in light of the fact that 39 castles and castles throughout the country were renovated as part of the National Castle and Castle Program of the Orbán government launched in 2015. The number melted down to thirty in the process, while the opening budget of 33 billion grew to 60 billion, of which 40 billion was provided by the European Union. The program progressed very slowly, but 14 billion was spent by 2018, just as billions have been paid every year for the renovation of domestic castles and castles since then. But this did not seem to increase the value of the castles much. Although this is no longer an issue for the government, since it wants to put the further development and maintenance of monuments on a “new basis” by allowing them to be owned and managed free of charge.
The possibility of unprecedented free robbery also arose in the concept of the new architectural law, also signed by the ministry of János Lázár, which was put up for social debate in March. There was also talk of a newly created National Monuments Fund, which would “mainly”, but not exclusively, provide support for the renovation of monuments through a tender system, creating a loophole for the distribution of funds based on individual decisions. Thus, this could easily become the new money-spinner for NER. The monuments department of the Hungarian Chamber of Architects (MÉK) was even more frightened by the passages dealing with castles. As they wrote in their dissenting opinion: “the idea of trading with castles is overly business-friendly” and “there is a risk of damaging community property”. According to the department, this “can generate a very dangerous trend”. But this did not affect the legislators in the least, and they even wrote a separate law for the transformation of prominent monuments of the national heritage into “true national spaces” and their preservation with the involvement of private capital.
Nándor Csepreghy, the state secretary of the Ministry of Construction, replied at the time: “The government’s aim is to ensure that the monuments are not left unused and in a degraded state, the law will promote their sustainable and dignified use, their value-preserving renovation, the development of public utilities and their residential use” Nándor Csepreghy, State Secretary of the Ministry of Construction according to Ágnes Vadai representative from DK.
All of this coincided with the vision of Zsanett Oláh, the executive director of the NÖF, entrusted with the protection of Hungarian castles and castles at the end of 2022. According to the company report, when the company manager, who earned a gross HUF 33 million, i.e. more than HUF 2.5 million per month, was appointed, his main goal was to “reorganize the Hungarian model of the utilization of built heritage”. As we can see, this coincided with the portfolio manager’s plans. Oláh Zsanett, who previously made billions in losses, was involved in several scandals and was liquidated in 2018, from the position of CEO of Magyar Nemzeti Kereskedőház Zrt. (MNKH) Zrt., who moved to the head of the NÖF with a short detour, wasted no time: he closed the newly renovated Edeleny and Pécel castles in the spring. , and the Iszkaszentgyörgy castle was quickly given its tenant, so now it can also be transferred for free. He then announced a downsizing of groups involving 168 people, because the distributed castles do not need specialists. His main task this year is certainly the distribution of castles and castles among deserving businesses and businessmen. Following in the footsteps of István Tiborcz and Lőrinc Mészáros, many NER heroes obviously want their own castle.
The draft law could be commented on until June 2, and it was already submitted to the parliament this week. If the Parliament accepts it, it will enter into force within 15 days. Thus, the large state distribution of castles can start already in the summer. In the law on the sustainable development of certain elements of cultural heritage, it is already stated at the beginning that the state recognizes the social value-creating role of private actors and wants to protect their “public interest efforts” with the necessary legislative environment.
Individuals or companies wishing to have their own castle, castle, or historical park only need to submit an application to the Minister of Construction, János Lázár, who will decide whether the contents of the application meet the “goals and principles defined in the law.” The conditions include preventing deterioration and ensuring the building’s accessibility. However, this only applies to those castles in which a museum, library, or public collection operated at the time of the transfer of property. The rest may become private property forever. The furniture, paintings, and chattels in the properties are also in the possession of the applicant free of charge. However, in the case of monuments renovated with EU funds, the obligations undertaken when using the support must be fulfilled. All of this is also true for those properties that are not inherited, but only taken over by the enterprising wealthy into asset management for 99 years.
The new owner can apply for support for the operation of the properties received for free – especially for the organization of exhibitions, performances and events – and for the renovation of the building, which can be paid from domestic and EU funds. Reasonable profit is not an exclusionary reason. János Lázár decides on the support.
Some have even forged a community on their own
Even apart from this, even among the castle purchases and renovations, we can find one where the new owners prosper by not “sucking the state or the union’s trinkets”, spending public money, acquiring the property with subsidies or even for free. A married couple engaged in international transport, Györgyike Szerencsés and Péter Szepesi, bought the dilapidated castle between two roads in Heves county, not far from Poroszló, more than a decade ago with the profits of their own business. The building was sold on the Internet by a private individual, with whom they handled the sale and the paperwork in about a year.
The secession-style, two-story tower castle was originally owned by the Graefl family, and although it was rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century, exceeding the expectations of the time, it was rebuilt using modern solutions – for example, the rooms were heated with air blowing, sewage drainage was provided, and there was even a women’s and a men’s bathroom. were formed -, the nationalization and then the fortification of tea in the last hundred years greatly deteriorated its structure.
They also forged a community around the manor house, as certain renovation works, decoration and landscaping were carried out together with a group of friends who had joined forces to save the building, but they also received previously “lost” original furnishings and furniture from the elderly in the neighborhood, who liked that the neglected property brought back to life.
Today, under the banner of “slow food-slow life”, the castle hotel welcomes visitors, where with the help of experts from the University of Gödöllő they have built a self-sufficient major, most of the food is produced locally, animals are kept, plants are taken care of and cultural and community programs, concerts and performances are also organized . They bake the bread locally, they have honey, eggs, milk, cheese, they started pressing oil, and they make tea from herbs collected in the area. The business not only brings joy to them – and slowly brings benefits as well, as they give jobs to quite a few people from the area in the majors, horticulture or even in the hotel department. The spaces were not concreted or paved, they took care to preserve the atmosphere of the lowland landscape around the Tisza, to protect the birds and wild animals of the area and, if possible, not to disturb the environment more than necessary with “slow, human-friendly tourism” .
Source: Népszava by nepszava.hu.
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