The Budapest Times is unrivalled among English-language print publications in the capital for its coverage of the week’s most important national stories, whether they be economic, political, cultural, sporting or among the hundreds of other happenings that go on daily in a major European city. Here, in one concise package we present some of the important and fascinating news developments of the past seven days.
A preliminary police investigation has collected some 100 pieces of forensic evidence and determined the type of explosive used in a bank blast last week. The shopfront of a CIB Bank branch in District XIII’s Lehel Street was destroyed by a bomb activated by remote control. Viktoria Kovacs, a spokeswoman for National Police ORFK, told the daily Népszabadság that detectives are working on reconstructing the crime using images and footage recorded by the bank’s security camera and public closed-circuit television. One theory the police are treating as highly plausible is that the blast was intended to open an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). Bank sources told Népszabadság that the ATM’s reinforced money cassette had been breached but no money was missing. Structural damage to the bank building and other damage to about 20 homes is estimated at HUF 26.5 million, insurer Aegon said.
INA boost would benefit Croatia: MOL
Hungarian petrol and gas company MOL is ready to speed up the pace of talks with its Croatian peer INA and is seeking to increase the company’s upstream output, MOL director general József Molnár said last week. Talking to journalists in Zagreb after a round of talks with the Croatian side, he said MOL urged the issuing of production licences. “Based on our business plan, in case we get the necessary licences in time, INA could increase its daily output by 4,300 barrels in the short term and by 9,000 in the long run,” Molnár said. This would mean raising the output by 10% and 20%, which could generate several hundred million kunas for the Croatian economy, he added.
In a statement published on the Croatian government’s website after the consultations, Economy Minister Ivan Vrdoljak said individual open issues can be discussed but an agreement cannot be expected unless the dispute on company management rights is closed. MOL holds a fraction less than a controlling stake in INA, while the Croatian government owns almost 45%. The two shareholders have long been at odds over the way the company is managed.
The Croatian government then announced that it has turned to the legal body of the United Nations, UNCITRAL, to settle the dispute. The government wants UNCITRAL to partly annul an agreement concluded in 2009 on giving over management rights to the Hungarian oil and gas giant. Zagreb wants to restore the status quo or compensation for what it calls MOL’s “unlawfully getting management rights”.
PM regrets expulsion of Germans
The deportation of ethnic Germans from Hungary 68 years ago was an irreparable loss for the entire nation, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said this week. Hungary has suffered the horrors of dictatorship twice, which is exactly two too many for any nation to have to experience, he said. On 19 January 1946 Germans were deported in cattle wagons to Germany. The German Hungarians affixed a sign to the wagons saying “Farewell, our homeland!”. Orbán rejected punishment based on the notion of collective crime. He noted that reconciliation could come when ethnic Germans will delegate a representative to Parliament after the 2014 election.
Hungarian film misses out on Oscars
János Szász’s film The Notebook has not made the cut and will not be among the five films to compete for the Academy Award for best foreign language film. Szász told MTI state news agency that though he was sad, he was proud that The Notebook had got as far as the shortlist of nine films. “I will proceed in my way,” he added. The Oscars will be held on 2 March..
The authorities have issued an operating permit for the Fővám Square stop of Budapest’s new fourth metro line, leaving only one of the 10 stops without a permit, the Mayor’s Office has announced. The Fővám Square stop will serve Corvinus University, the Great Market Hall and tram lines. The stop has been nominated for several architectural design awards. Metro 4 will connect the southern part of Buda with northeast Budapest. The final cost of the project is estimated at about HUF 425 billion.
Green packaging OK up to a point
A majority of Hungarians would not object to buying food in green-friendly packaging but they specifically do not seek such goods, a survey by GfK Market Research Institute shows. The nationwide survey in December shows that 67% would opt to buy food in environmentally friendly packaging if it did not affect the price, but only 15.2% would go for green packaging even if it meant a small price premium. A total of 17.8% said they were not at all interested in packaging. The volume of selective waste collection for juice boxes has nearly doubled in four years but still only around 21% of packaging waste is collected selectively.
The District V council has approved the design of a memorial commemorating the 70th anniversary of the 1944 German occupation of Hungary, whose main motifs are the Archangel Gabriel and an imperial eagle. News website Index said the council had opted for a design by sculptor Péter Raab Párkányi. Index cited a blog entry by Socialist councillor Tibor Pásztor, who posted the relevant documentation and a visual rendering of the design (pictured). The memorial comprises 13 pillars and a 7-metre-tall Archangel Gabriel and imperial eagle wrought in bronze, stone and chrome. The work is expected to be completed by 15 March, in time for a ceremonial unveiling four days later. “Disputes over the memorial are understandable since they concern an important issue,” the Government Information Centre said. “We very much hope that nobody raises any doubt that victims of the events after 19 March 1944 [when the German forces arrived] deserve to be commemorated in a compassionate and honourable way… We ask everyone to resist turning this compassionate commemoration into a political issue.” Human Resources Minister Zoltán Balog said in the Yad Vashem Institute in Israel that the memorial was not about “shifting responsibility” but about “the historical fact that a foreign power occupied Hungary on 19 March 1944”. The chief rabbi of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation (EMIH) said he opposes a memorial because it would send the message that the Hungarian state had been blameless. The other major Jewish organisation, Mazsihisz, also protested against the plan. (photos: MTI)