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.
The ongoing reconstruction of Kossuth tér has seen the inauguration of the decorative lights on Parliament’s east side, completing the illumination of the entire building. The square-side of Parliament features 764 light sources, some hidden in the plants, some in the ground and others installed on the building’s façade.
Turkish investor to renovate landmark palace
The District V council has decided unanimously to sell the landmark south Klotild Palace to Turkey’s Ozyer Group for HUF 2.2 billion. Ozyer has promised to renovate the structure within five years at a cost estimated at HUF 2 billion-plus, the council said. The building has stood vacant since 2009.
The Lajta Monitor, the sole remaining, fully restored river warship of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, is now a floating museum on the Danube in front of Parliament. The river monitor was launched in 1871, and besides serving throughout the First World War it played a part in the toppling of the short-lived communist regime of Béla Kun in 1919. The ship was reconstructed with EU funding of HUF 100 million and forms part of the Parliament Visitors’ Centre. Otherwise known by its German name SMS Leitha, it is the most significant ship in Hungary’s general and military history and served the Danube flotilla for more than 50 years, Vilmos Kovács, commander of the Defence Ministry’s Military History Institute and Museum, said at the inauguration.
PM tells diplomats to spread Hungarian ‘success’
Hungary has embarked on a period of economic growth that could put it among the fastest-growing EU member states, according to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Addressing the annual meeting of Hungarian mission leaders, Orbán said the country had ended a four-year period of successful governance, signalled by its emerging from the EU’s excessive deficit procedure. He asked the diplomats to represent a country with a “successful outlook”, one that has produced results thanks to unconventional and novel policies. These had been treated with suspicion in the EU but Hungary should not have to defend itself. Rather, diplomats should present opportunities linked to successes already delivered. Orbán said Hungary is the only EU country whose political system had been “thoroughly screened” by the EU for common European values. Hungary was among EU countries that regarded the current situation with Russia as essentially an economic issue. The EU was moving further away from Russia day by day, which was bad not only for Hungary but the whole EU.
49 other cities ‘better’ than Budapest
Budapest ranked 50th this year on a list of most liveable cities published by the Economist Intelligence Unit. This improved on the 55th place five years ago out of 140 cities tested, the investment consultancy firm said. The survey gauged living standards in big cities in terms of stability, healthcare, education, culture and environment, and infrastructure. Budapest received an overall score of 88.9 out of 100. It rated 100 for quality of education, 90 for culture and environment, 91.7 for healthcare services and 83.9 for infrastructure. Melbourne came top, then Vienna and Vancouver.
Portugal’s Bruno Pais triumphed in the men’s competition and Denmark’s Michelle Vesterby in the women’s at the Ironman triathlon race hosted by Budapest for the first time on Saturday. Erika Csomor and Anna Halász of Hungary came second and third in the women’s category and the best Hungarian man was Dávid Hankó (pictured), seventh. The race comprised a 1.9-kilometre swim, 90-kilometre bicycle ride and 21.1-kilometre run, namely 70.3 miles, leading to its naming as “Ironman Budapest 70.3”. The event was an official half-distance race of the world cup series organised in cooperation with the World Triathlon Corporation. Budapest is the first Central-Eastern European location in the history of the Ironman race series.
Polgár has made her final move in pro chess
Hungary’s international chess grandmaster Judit Polgár is retiring from professional chess. Polgár, 38, who has topped the women’s world ranking since 1989, revealed her decision in The Times magazine. At age 15 she became the youngest ever international grandmaster in the world, breaking Bobby Fischer’s record. Polgár, her older sisters Zsuzsa and Zsófia, and Ildikó Mádl formed the Hungarian team that won the chess Olympics in 1988 and 1990. As the world’s top female player, she garnered her best score, 2,735 points, in July 2005. Polgár will concentrate on the activities of her Judit Polgár Chess Foundation for Educational Benefits, which she founded in 2012, and on promoting chess education in school. In March 2013 she was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary Commander’s Cross with Star.
Kincsem film at starting gate
The shooting of a high-budget international film about Hungary’s legendary race horse Kincsem is expected to start in late October, producer Gábor Losonczi has said. The film would be called “The Invincible” and would be co-produced by Hungary, Britain, Russia, Germany, the US and Austria, Losonczi said. Academy Award-winning Roger Christian, whose credits include films in the “Star Wars” and “Alien” franchises, would direct. The screenplay has been written by Tibor Fonyódi from Losonczi’s idea and Géza Bereményi’s novel. Poet Géza Szőcs, a chief advisor to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, will be in charge of dramaturgy. The planned budget is USD 20-25 million and actors Mads Mikkelsen, Martin Freeman, Ed Harris and Jean-Paul Belmondo have been approached. Shooting is planned to conclude next spring. Losonczi said no state support would be used.
The prototype of the world’s first all-water fluid house has been presented to the industry in Kecskemét. Designed by Hungarian architect Mátyás Gutai, the sustainable fluid house uses water insulation in thermal panels on all sides of the building. The balancing effect of the house provides a state-of-the-art comfort zone within a few seconds in the building, but the water also works as a heater/cooler interface. The prototype presented is a 10-square-metre building constructed with European Union support. Gutai, who attended secondary school in Kecskemét and received his first degree from Budapest Technical University, is now a researcher at Tokyo University.
The Liget Budapest project planned in City Park will bring returns on the investment within ten years of its expected completion in 2018, daily Magyar Hírlap says, citing an impact study by consultancy firm KPMG. The project will involve setting up five museums: for fine arts, architecture, ethnography, music and photography, by utilising existing museum buildings and constructing new ones. It also involves redevelopment of the park. The KPMG study said the development would start in 2016 and the museums would be ready for the first visitors in March 2018. The new museums would be built for HUF 75 billion and the Liget complex’s renewal, including creating the new museum quarter, would cost HUF 150 billion, according to plans cited by KPMG. The study evaluated the project’s impact based on its benefits to tourism and catering, tax revenues and job creation, among other aspects. It expects visitor numbers at City Park sites to rise from the current 4 million to 5.9 million in 2019 and to 6.2 million in the fourth year of its opening.
Lotteries put budget on a winner
State lottery company Szerencsejáték increased revenue by a record HUF 36 billion or 32% in the first half of this year compared to the same period of 2013, National Development Minister Miklós Seszták has said. From its total revenue of HUF 148 billion the company contributed HUF 35.4 billion to the budget, over 21% more than in January-June 2013. After-tax profits were HUF 8.617 billion in the first half of 2014, up 55%. Seszták said Szerencsejáték has become one of the ten largest taxpayers.
Promises begin as local election campaign starts
The campaign for Hungary’s local elections on 12 October has been officially opened by President János Áder. The official campaign lasts 50 days under the new election procedures law. Candidates can collect supporting signatures by voters until 8 September. Election rallies can be last held on the day preceding the vote but campaigning will be banned within 150 metres of polling stations on 12 October. Ruling national party Fidesz has promised economic stimulus and jobs, and a chance to “put the Gyurcsány-Bajnai era behind us”. E-PM has vowed to make the first moves to erode the Orbán regime by building “bridgeheads” in Budapest. Allied LMP and 4K! have proposed the launch of a major social housing project involving 10,000 rentals to ease the needs of low-income earners and the homeless.