Last year’s coronavirus epidemic has plagued the entire country, putting local governments in serious challenges as well. Have you ever made an account of the losses to your city?
Yes. THE Accountant We also presented in detail the losses caused by the coronavirus epidemic and the government’s withdrawals, which together amount to almost HUF 10 billion.
What government assistance did they receive?
Due to the deductions during the pandemic, drastic loss of revenue (for example, parking, public transport and institutional ticket sales, rents), serious billions fell out of Miskolc’s coffers. All forint compensation is important, but the resources received did not cover a quarter of the deficit. Today, we must also be proud to keep it running.
In light of these, what do you think of Miskolc 2030 about the plan of the Tram-Train high-speed railway included in the program package, which would connect Miskolc with Kazincbarcika and Tiszaújváros?
The lack of funds is caused by the state withdrawing support for public transport, the previous city administration accumulated nearly four billion forints of debt to the transport company, and ticket sales fell to a fraction during the pandemic. Nonetheless, we believe and seek to substantiate with detailed impact assessments that the city and this economic region need certain infrastructural developments, including the tram train.
What economic impact can the interconnection of these big cities have?
Transport development projects strengthen the regional economic role of Miskolc and its region, but they also significantly help the life of the surrounding settlements. These projects serve not only the development of certain parts of the city within the settlement boundaries, but also the surrounding cities, the settlements of the agglomeration and the people living there but working in Miskolc, and the people living in Miskolc but working in the surrounding settlements. Planning will in any case be preceded by a full impact assessment. We have to look beyond the administrative boundaries of the city, I believe in regional cooperation, I think not only of the immediate surroundings of the city and the settlements of our county, but also of the developments coordinated with other cities with county status.
From the Segregate of Lyukóvölgy to the flourishing tourist destination of Lillafüred or Miskolctapolca, Miskolc is a particularly versatile settlement. Where is the short-term focus of urban development placed?
There is a different thing to do in Miskolc and in every area. Hole’s situation is not just a public safety or social issue, it would require complex action for decades, but in the past decade, neither the previous city administration nor the government has been in a hurry to solve the problems. Yet we all know that Hole Valley is not a jewel box at the moment, even if it could be because of its natural endowments. And a problem swollen to such a weight and size can no longer be solved without the will, involvement and help of the government. Several processes promising real results have finally started, in which the local government is also actively involved.
Although the tourist areas of Miskolc have developed, the developments launched in recent years cannot be called fully thought out and the development has not been even at all. Tapolca has received a new spa, which offers a fantastic experience for visitors, but is terribly expensive to maintain, and the castle of Diósgyőr and its surroundings are also being renewed. We are very pleased with all the developments, but there is no agreement in the architectural profession, to put it mildly, in judging some of the inherited and realized plans, and none of the investments was preceded by a serious preliminary operational inspection. In addition, the city is working with steam to develop Lillafüred and make the city center and the historic Avas more attractive. The most important goal is that all four outstanding tourist destinations of Miskolc can serve the visitors at a really high level.
We are also working to renew the city’s transport, revitalize the economy, encourage investment, make housing more efficient, strengthen communities and many more. That is why the Nagy-Miskolc program was created, which set our goals and based on this we formulated our development strategy until 2030, on the basis of which we compile our development projects. All our development ideas serve the goal of increasing the population retention of Miskolc.
Did you mention large areas of development, in what order?
It is not the prioritization, but the complexity, the strengthening of the coherence and the parallel management of the developments that are important to us. Unfortunately, in the last decade there have been more mosaic-like developments in Miskolc, the city has suffered a significant disadvantage due to the lack of well-thought-out, socialized, complex plans and the inadequate handling of certain problems.
Do you mean Hole Valley? In the previous cycle, the local government led by Ákos Kriza was criticized for its liquidation program. How would you integrate the people living there? Or was the task simply handed over to the Maltese Charity Presence Program?
We have not let it go, but now, in cooperation with them, we have the opportunity to move forward, and at least we will act. The former city administration’s liquidation program was partly for real estate development and partly for marketing purposes, as it did not eradicate poverty, it did not eradicate it, but scattered it in the city, simply moving it away, partly to Lyuko, for example. This is not a solution. Apparent activity had good but many negative effects. I am convinced that only professionally developed, socialized and consistently implemented programs can bring results.
Pál Veres, Mayor of Miskolc
He was born in 1962 in Ózd. High school teacher majoring in mathematics, physics, computer science, public education manager, master teacher, teacher supervision and teacher qualification expert.
From 1997 until his election as mayor in 2019, he was the director of the Ferenc Földes High School in Miskolc. From 2021 he is a member of the board of trustees of the University of Miskolc.
Married, father of two adult children.
The successes of the University of Miskolc can already be seen: this year it has significantly increased the proportion of international students, and a London analyst has advanced a total of 5 percentage points in the ranking of international university excellence compared to the previous year. What role does the university play in the life of the city?
The university is an autonomous part of the city, a city within a city, but also one of our most important cooperating partners. I am glad that it has become a fundamental principle, which I myself have been saying for decades, how important it is to strengthen the relationship between the city and the university. For example, it is in my common interest to coordinate urban and university developments, which is one of the reasons why I took on board membership in the management of the university. If we offer Miskolc to more serious companies for investment, then the first issue is always the university background and vocational training. A flexible university training structure and a high-quality applied research background are especially attractive for companies settling here.
A science park-type research base is being planned, in which the university’s applied scientific capacity could help companies develop activities. Decisions on this will be made soon. My goal is to install certain training venues in the city, to attract students to the city center, to organize joint cultural and public programs and festivals. The basic question of university cooperation is in which area the university can be brought closer to the city. The intellectual and cultural background of a strong higher education institution has a positive effect on the public life of the whole city, and it is also planned to expect serious development resources, which may determine the development of the university and thus Miskolc for decades.
In addition to the university, the Mathias Corvinus Collegium Miskolc talent nurse training is also present in the city. How do you view it from the point of view of the public and higher education system of the settlement? Does it raise your standard or do you segregate?
I believe that all high-quality forms of talent management are needed, we need to give priority to supporting talent development activities.
Large sports facilities under public investment are already a boggy area. Their maintenance raised questions in several county seats. The local government of the city has a 10 percent ownership in the Diósgyőr stadium. In the light of the last three years, can you already see how profitable the development has become? Did the people of Miskolc love it?
We still need some time to talk about the return with complete accuracy. The people of Miskolc, by the way, feel at home in the stadium, which is primarily home to football matches and DVTK programs. Miskolc has one of the largest fan communities, the commitment to DVTK has a famous tradition and the love of football is an important element of “Miskolcism”. But of course, this does not end the rich sports life in Miskolc, as hockey, basketball, water polo, wrestling, volleyball and judo also have a long tradition and a lot of fans in the city. Cooperation with DVTK is not limited to the field of sports, for example, our natural science talent management scholarship and professional system, which we operate together, is also unique nationally.
You have become the mayor of Miskolc as an independent candidate, but you have accepted the support of many parties and non-governmental organizations. How much work does it take to bring these sometimes divisive wills and interests together?
In Miskolc, the coalition works, at the same time this truly heterogeneous alliance has remained and is able to govern the city. Instead of party political interests, we can only achieve success by prioritizing urban political interests. In my opinion, we can’t do otherwise, because Miskolc exists in perhaps the most complicated and complex circumstances among the non-government-led big cities. As I see it, togetherness is like a marriage. It is not difficult to bind, but to preserve, preserve and operate its values. Yes, this is a responsible and very difficult task, but we must not forget that the consortium has received city councilors’ powers from the electorate.
What does it matter what local issues may shape the theme of the upcoming parliamentary elections in Miskolc?
This will be revealed soon. I do not want to guess or guess, we have explored the problems of the city to be solved during the elaboration of our development ideas, obviously some of them will be highlighted by the political forces.
What values do you keep in mind during your work as mayor?
Miskolc must return to the place among its Hungarian big cities, which deserves its values and evaluates its values much more realistically. You deserve it because you have fantastic talents, because talented, dedicated, hardworking, hospitable people live here. We want to judge our city by its actual values and performance, rather than the negative stamps that have been affixed to us for a long time. That is why I work, this is my main goal, and it is also in the interests of all Miskolc.
In the first part of our series of major interviews entitled The City Leader, we asked András Nemény, the mayor of Szombathely, in the second part we talked to the mayor of Győr, cardiologist Csaba András Dézsi from Fidesz. The main character of the third part of the interview series was the mayor of Eger, supported by the opposition, but starting in the colors of the association, Ádám Mirkóczki. In the fourth part, Klaudia Szakereyn Pataki, the Fidesz leader of Kecskemét, spoke to the Index. András Cser-Palkovics, supported by Fidesz – KDNP, who has been leading Székesfehérvár since 2010, has also spoken in our series. Ferenc Kovács also told us, He is the first man of Nyíregyháza, László Papp, the mayor of Debrecen, and Gyula Porga, the first man of Veszprém. Kiss Ambrus in our series about the problems of Budapest Deputy Mayor spoke, we visited Péter Szarvas, Mayor of Békéscsaba County, while in the last part we were interviewed by Ferenc Szalay, Mayor of Szolnok.
(Cover image: Peres Veres. Photo: Tamás Kaszás / Index)