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 former Táncsics Prison, which held writer and politician Mihály Táncsics, one of the heroes of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution, opened to the public for two days this week after more than six decades. The compound in Buda Castle was returned by the United States, which owned it since 1948, in June. Táncsics was imprisoned for his radical political views in 1846 and freed on 15 March 1848, the day the revolution broke out. Lajos Kossuth, the regent-president of Hungary in 1849, was also imprisoned in the compound in 1837-40. Other statesmen and politicians jailed there included Miklós Wesselényi in 1839-40 and Lajos Batthyány from 1849 until his execution. Táncsics Prison is planned to be opened to the public in the near future.
Mediaworks arrives with a bang
Austria’s Vienna Capital Partners has set up one of Hungary’s largest media companies under the name of Mediaworks Hungary. The move follows approval from the Hungarian Competition Office and involved buying most parts of the portfolios the international media companies Ringier and Axel Springer had operated in Hungary. The Mediaworks chief executive is Attila Mihók, previously president-CEO of the daily Népszabadság, and the board comprises former top managers of Ringier and the regional management of Axel Springer in Hungary. Mediaworks Hungary’s portfolio includes 12 companies, employs 700 people and puts out 63 media products with 1.8 million readers and 1.6 online visitors, Mihók said. Included are Hungary’s largest daily Népszabadság, business daily Világgazdaság and Manager Magazin, plus eight regional dailies, sports daily Nemzeti Sport and several youth, women’s and gastronomy magazines. Mediaworks operates Hungary’s most modern printing house that publishes 600,000 copies of papers a day.
Hungary’s Gripen fighters started defending Slovenian airspace on Saturday, in line with an agreement signed by the two countries’ defence ministers in January. The Defence Ministry said the Gripens are sharing the task with their Italian counterparts. When Slovenia joined NATO in 2004 it opted to guarantee the security of its airspace in cooperation with its allies rather than buying fighters. Hungary, with its fleet of fourth-generation aircraft, agreed to participate.
Government centralised PR office starts up
The new National Communication Office has started to carry out communications-related procurement for a wide spectrum of state institutions. It takes over the public procurement tasks related to marketing, public relations, research and communication activities from central budget-funded institutions, such as ministries and directly or indirectly majority state-owned companies, according to a decree. The National Communication Office will not be responsible for the PR of independently run state administrative or institutions bodies such as the central bank or regulators. It will be run under the authority of the cabinet office.
Hungary has won 20 medals at EuroSkills, the largest European skills competition, in Lille, France. Hungarian skilled workers won gold in joinery, information and communication technology, surface cleaning and cleaning services, and silver in mechatronics and woodcraft technology. Overall, Hungary finished sixth in the 25-nation field. Sándor Czomba, state secretary for vocational training and the labour market, said the achievements demonstrate that the country’s vocational training system tailored to market needs is successful, and that Hungarians belong to the European elite in several crafts. Pictured is a Hungarian surface cleaning competitor and a Dutch entrant in the wall and floor tiling event.
Bubi bikes catch on, come rain or shine
Budapest’s public bike-sharing system has registered its 100,000th user, Budapest Transport Centre (BKK) says. The MOL Bubi system was launched on 8 September, since when 4,000 people have bought weekly or monthly passes and thousands have had a one-off rental. Rentals often exceed 5,000 a day in nice weather and there are over 3,000 users even on a rainy day, BKK said.
Prize for business-with-nappies scheme
Hungary’s Gazdagmami.hu, which encourages business start-ups by mothers with young children, has won the grand jury prize in this year’s European Enterprise Promotion Awards, the European Commission said. Gazdagmami.hu – which means “rich mommy” in Hungarian – helps mothers acquire the entrepreneurial skills and mind-set to start a business and make it profitable, the Commission said. The Ministry for National Economy said Gazdagmami.hu had organised presentations for young mothers in 64 communities around the country and in neighbouring regions last year. It trains about 2,000 mothers a year in seminars and at conferences.
The government and opposition have marked the 4th anniversary of the red sludge disaster, with deputy Socialist leader Zoltán Gőgös saying that still no proper account has been given to the many people countrywide who donated HUF 2 billion on how exactly the money was spent. On 4 October 2010 about a million cubic metres of toxic sludge spilled from the Ajka alumina plant reservoir, flooding Kolontár, Devecser and Somlóvásárhely villages. It killed ten people, injured over 200, destroyed 358 homes, wiped out all life in two small rivers and polluted over 1,000 hectares. Many of those who came in contact with the highly alkaline substance suffered severe burns and 120 people were hospitalised. Over 700 people suffered material damage and HUF 35 billion was spent from the central budget on compensation and reconstruction. A government spokeswoman said on Saturday it was Hungary’s worst ecological disaster caused by industrial activity.