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 Reformed church in Szilágyi Dezső Square in Budapest’s District I has been declared a historic memorial site. Attending the event, Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog said it is a special and important public task of Hungarian Christianity to inspire public figures. He said this inspiration means that “with our life and work, we always serve something higher”. This is not only true of politicians but of all people, Balog said. There are 13 national and 47 historic memorial sites in Hungary. The Reformed church of Szilágyi Dezső Square, the first Reformed church on the Buda side of the capital, was designed by Samu Pecz in Neo-Gothic style and was inaugurated in 1896.
Marx statue removed, whereabouts unknown
A statue of Karl Marx has been removed from the entrance hall of the university that once carried his name. The university that specialises in economics changed to the University of Economics of Budapest after Hungary ditched state socialism. It received its current name Corvinus (Corviniana was a famous Renaissance library established by the king Matthias Corvinus) in 2004. The institution said it would give a briefing later on where the Marx statue has been taken. Earlier the university said the statue would not be removed from the campus. “No kind of political or external pressure was brought to bear,” it said. The youth wing IKSZ of the co-ruling Christian Democrats said the removal represented the symbolic closure of the post-communist period.
Hungarian WWI victims commemorated in Italy
Defence Minister Csaba Hende and pilgrims from Hungary have visited the site of the First World War Isonzo battles in north-eastern Italy and attended a commemoration at the local Hungarian cemetery. Hende met Pope Francis, who had celebrated a mass at the military cemetery of Fogliano Redipuglia, and gave him a present from Hungary. The minister and pilgrims paid tribute to the over 7,000 Hungarian soldiers buried there. Hungary lost more than 600,000 soldiers in the First World War, including 250,000 in battles in northern Italy.
The 85th anniversary of Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij, better known as KLM, launching its first Amsterdam to Budapest flight was celebrated by flying the route with a retro-painted aircraft that was welcomed with the traditional water spray at Liszt Ferenc Airport. Budapest was among the first European capitals to establish air connection with Amsterdam. KLM increased its passenger numbers to Hungary by 40% in the past four years.
Festival honours cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond
Hungarian-American cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond is to receive this year’s life-achievement award at the CineFest International Film Festival of Miskolc this Saturday. The festival runs until this Sunday and is showing a retrospective of Zsigmond’s work, among them major films such as the 1978 war drama “The Deer Hunter” and the 1977 American science fiction film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, which won him the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. The programme also includes the 2002 Hungarian opera film “Bank Ban” and the 1972 American dramatic thriller “Deliverance”, which will be the closing film of CineFest.
HUF 15 billion will be spent modernising and expanding six major Budapest thermal baths and lidos between 2015 and 2020, Mayor István Tarlós has announced. The cost of upgrading the Gellért, Palatinus, Paskál, Dagály, Csillaghegy and Pesterzsébet lidos will be covered by the city and Budapest Gyógyfürdői es Hévizei, the company that runs the facilities, Tarlós said. Asked about the planned renovation of Budapest’s M3 metro, he said the tender is ready and is expected to be announced in two or three weeks.
Law offers banks honour: Orbán
The settlements law for compensating borrowers whose contracts were unilaterally changed by banks will focus on the ideals of fairness, equitableness and honour, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in his opening speech of the autumn session of Parliament. Orbán said the government had accepted the decision of the Kuria, the Supreme Court, declaring unilateral changes by banks as an unfair practice. Banks must compensate clients in the interest of following “the public good” and settlements are all about giving everyone “their fair dues”. This can be achieved only by working together, he said, adding that Hungary is now strong enough to enact and enforce the necessary decisions. Preparations must be made because there were already “rustles from Brussels”, and banks in themselves were powerful, brave and cunning. Orbán said the government has been able to make a change in connection with two stressful aspects of everyday life: high utility bills and high repayments on forex loans. The utility bill cuts administered had a positive impact on the economy too, he said, adding that the scheme is “the essence of our policies” and will continue.
The National Bank of Hungary (NBH) says a report by website atlatszo.hu suggesting it paid too much for a prime office building in central Budapest was “misleading” and gave “a false impression”. The website (whose name translates as “transparent”) said the bank had paid EUR 45.3 million for the Eiffel Palace, which offshore investors had bought and renovated for less than EUR 31 million. The NBH said the article “contains fundamentally erroneous findings and conclusions”. The bank said it had commissioned consultancy KPMG to prepare an opinion, based on international standards, on the purchase, noting that the value of the property was appraised based on yield. It explained that the peculiarities of the property excluded the use of a method involving comparable market data, and that about 70% of the area of the property was under lease for ten-year-plus contracts,