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.
Tragedy of Trianon recalled at home and abroad
Political parties and civil organisations throughout the world (pictured is a flash mob at New York’s Times Square) marked National Cohesion Day, 4 June, the day the 1920 Trianon Peace Treaty was signed in which two-thirds of Hungary’s territory was ceded to neighbouring countries. The Hungarian nation can be proud of having survived the treaty, Zsolt Semjén, the deputy prime minister in charge of Hungarian communities abroad, said. June 4 is a day of mourning, remembrance and a historical lesson at the same time, he said. The opposition Socialists said Trianon was an unjust peace treaty that is remembered by all Hungarians as an unforgettable tragedy. Radical nationalist Jobbik said commemorating the anniversary is not enough in itself, and lessons must be learnt. The opposition LMP party called for territorial autonomy for Szekler Land, in Romania, as a precondition for building strong and viable Hungarian communities. Opposition E-PM said Trianon was a tragedy for every Hungarian and called for a new approach, a “change of era” in addressing Hungary’s 20th-century disasters such as Trianon, the communist dictatorship and the Holocaust.
Lázár calls on sacked editor to come clean
Cabinet chief János Lázár has said the outgoing editor in chief of Origo news portal should publicly deny rumours surrounding his dismissal. Opposition demonstrators who have protested against Gergő Sáling’s removal say he was sacked because Origo published articles concerning Lázár’s hotel bills, which critics have described as exorbitant. Lázár said: “I’m asking the outgoing editor in chief of Origo – with whom as far as I can remember I have never spoken or met – to say publicly when, with whom and how I put pressure to get him dismissed. If he is unable to do so… as an honourable… man he should firmly deny these rumours.” Speakers at the demonstration read out statements byportals Index, 444, Átlátszó and Origo itself to express solidarity with Origo’s editors and support freedom of the press. According to press reports, Sáling was removed under political pressure.
Economist warns on Hungarian state capitalism
The Hungarian government’s policies show signs of state capitalism in certain areas, renowned economist Nouriel Roubini has told a conference in Budapest. Roubini mentioned Hungary as an example of state capitalist tendencies in Central and Eastern Europe, where the role of the state increases to the detriment of market-oriented reforms. On the sidelines of the conference, organised by the Hungarian Venture Capital Association, he told reporters that Hungary had been able to reduce the vulnerability of its economy in a number of areas and had shown signs of economic growth, but added that the government had a “mixed” approach to foreign owners and suggested that its commitment to foreign investment was questionable. The markets have a feeling that the government would like to re-nationalise sectors that were privatised earlier, such as public utility or energy providers, as well as to take over some banks, Roubini said. Among risks around the Hungarian economy, the economist mentioned the high public debt, the high ratio of foreign lenders and that of bad debts in the banking sector. In general, he said Central and Eastern Europe’s economic foundations are better than at the outbreak of the global crisis, and perspectives for the region are positive.
Orbán sees national foundation in new monument
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has inaugurated one-time prime minister István Tisza’s monument near the Parliament building. Orbán said the ceremony marked the beginning of a new era for which the government had been working hard since 2010. “Today when, once again, self-proclaimed democrats protect democracy from us and they stir up trouble around us just because we don’t accept, without criticism, everything that the bureaucrats in Brussels tell us in Europe’s name, then we can say exactly what Tisza said: ‘I contritely confess, we stand on a national foundation’. What is more, we can also contritely confess that we stand not only on national foundations but on the side of freedom,” Orbán said. Tisza had seen that political parties on the side of labour did not necessarily have to be communist or socialist, they could be national, too, he said. The monument stands near where a statue of Mihály Károlyi, who saw Tisza as his arch-rival, stood before a recent reconstruction of Kossuth Square. The opposition Socialists said Tisza “failed to manifest the unity of the nation; he did not like progressive minds and progressive minds did not like him”.
Plaza ban extension despite EC objection
Hungary plans to extend a ban on the construction of big shopping centres in spite of an infringement procedure launched by the European Commission, daily Magyar Nemzet has reported. Kristóf Szatmáry, State Secretary at the National Economy Ministry, told the paper that the continuation of the ban was justified. He said such restrictions on construction are in place in several European countries. The ban on shopping centres over 300 square metres was introduced in 2012 until the end of 2014. In April, the EC launched the procedure over the ban. Szatmáry said the ban had raised Hungarian companies’ share of the market for fast-moving consumer goods to 40%.
Austria F1 revival knocks Hungaroring off track
Hungarian Formula One venue Hungaroring has a new competitor because neighbouring Austria is back after 12 years for the 2014 F1 season and could lure a mass of visitors, business daily Napi Gazdaság has said. So far, 15% fewer tickets have been purchased for the Hungarian race on 27 July than a year ago. Hungaroring Sport Zrt. President- CEO Zsolt Gyulay told the paper that the Hungarian race has been tied up in knots as all tickets had been sold in 36 hours for the Austrian Grand Prix to be held on 22 June.
South Stream to begin operation ‘next year ‘
The construction of the South Stream gas pipeline is proceeding as planned and it is expected to begin operation in late 2015, deputy chairman Aleksandr Medvedev of majority Russian state-owned oil and gas company Gazprom told state news agency MTI in Moscow on Tuesday. The pipeline is to deliver gas to Austria via Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary and to Italy via Bulgaria, Greece and the Adriatic Sea.