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 record number of 20,750 runners participated in the 29th Vivicittá Run for the City on Sunday, organiser Budapest Sports Office said. Participants had included runners from 770 communities in Hungary and more than 1,000 foreigners representing 57 countries from as far afield as Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Pakistan, Vietnam and Venezuela. The Vivicittá Budapest Spring Half Marathon offers several courses that include a half-marathon and 10- and 7-kilometre races. Runners pass landmarks such as the Opera House and Parliament, using both sides of the Danube.
US aircraft manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft is offering for sale to Hungary its popular Black Hawk helicopters, some of which have been participating in a Dutch-led international exercise near Várpalota in western Hungary, the US Embassy’s Commercial Counselor, Robert Peaslee, has said. Stanley J. Prusinski, a Sikorsky representative for Eastern Europe, said: “If Hungary purchases these aircraft it will have the same helicopters as the US Army in the decades ahead.” Prusinski was speaking at the Budaörs airport where two models from 1986 were presented to members of the press at an event organised by the US Embassy. Hungary could buy either the US-made UH-60M models or the S-70i Black Hawk models that are manufactured in Poland, he added. These helicopters had unmatched capabilities and had been used and tested in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Defence Minister Csaba Hende told state news agency MTI at the end of 2013 that preparations for helicopter and aircraft purchases were under way. He told commercial station InfoRadio in January that helicopters were needed not only for military purposes but also for police, terror prevention, disaster management and the ambulance services.
Sziget 2014 festival later to avoid overlaps
The Sziget 2014 festival will be a week later this year from 11-18 August to avoid overlaps with other international festivals in Japan and America. This will allow more international stars to be booked, and advance ticket sales have already proven the decision right, chief organiser Károly Gerendai said on Monday. The line-up will include The Prodigy, Lily Allen, Bonobo, Skrillex, Die Fantastischen Vier, Brody Dalle, Bastille, Calvin Harris, Outkast, Manic Street Preachers and The 1975.
Minister angered by EU court pálinka ruling
Farm Minister Sándor Fazekas has hit out at “another shocking provocation by the Brussels bureaucrats” after the European Court of Justice ruled last week that Hungary’s law exempting producers of home-made fruit brandy from paying excise tax for the first 50 litres annually is against European Union law. The National Economy Ministry said in response that the government is committed to protecting home distillery traditions, which are a part of Hungary’s cultural heritage. It said the government will start talks with the European Commission and “do its utmost” to retain those traditions “within boundaries defined by the European Union”. Fazekas said pálinka is a “Hungaricum” and the government would find a legal solution to protect the traditions of distilling and to make sure it remains free. Hungarian legislation in force since autumn 2010 allows citizens to distill for personal consumption the equivalent of 50 litres of pálinka containing 86% alcohol excise duty-free every year.
Climber Dávid Klein arrived at the 5,200-metre-high Mount Everest base camp on Tuesday and began the acclimatisation process before his attempt to become the first Hungarian to reach the highest point on Earth without an oxygen tank. Klein will first move to the 6,400-metre advanced base camp, then begin to set up his high-altitude camps at 7,050, 7,800 and 8,300 metres. He hopes to reach the 8,840-metre summit in late May- early June.
Chocolate may be tastier this Easter
Seasonal chocolate figurines are expected to generate HUF 3 billion for Hungarian sweets makers this Easter, the secretary of the Hungarian Association of Sweets Makers, Anna Benke, estimates. Sweets makers are expected to sell some 900 tonnes of the figurines, about level with last Easter, she said. Their quality was improving, with more than 90% made from genuine chocolate, Benke added.
The chief executive of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz) has resigned. The federation’s chairman, András Heisler, told commercial ATV that 79-year-old Gusztáv Zoltai had officially cited too much mental strain in connection with his public role, but his decision was as much to do with the planned construction of a monument to commemorate the victims of Hungary’s German occupation. Heisler said the Holocaust survivor’s resignation sent “a very strong signal” and that Mazsihisz finds the move to proceed with construction “inexplicable”. “Things are not going according to the promise of the prime minister,” he said in reference to Viktor Orbán’s suggestion to Mazsihisz in February that the issue should again be discussed after Easter. (Read more about the issue on page 28)
Lunch break a luxury for many workers
Some 40% of Hungarian office workers do not take a lunch break, a survey by jobs portal Profession.hu shows. Just 6% take the time to eat lunch at a canteen or restaurant, according to the representative survey of 2,400 people. Numbers of office workers who eat lunch in front of their computer monitors was especially high among women over 30, Profession. hu said. About 80% bring their lunch from home.
CDs decline as online music sales rise 50%
Online music sales in Hungary rose by 50% to almost HUF 500 million last year, data from the Hungarian Association of Record Publishers (MAHASZ) show. Within online sales, revenue from streaming services doubled, MAHASZ said. Sales of CDs fell by about 25% last year, a little faster than the rate in previous years, to about HUF 2.6 billion.