Looking good, for nowFinance Minister János Kóka last week told MTI news agency that he believes Hungary will meet the criteria for adopting the euro in 2009. He said that fiscal consolidation (that is, the unpopular package of tax increases and public sector spending cuts introduced last summer) would bring the national budget deficit to within the stipulated threshold of 3% of GDP.
Short-term outlook for the economyWith the arrival of the holiday season, markets are shifting to the usual summer trading mood – characterised by slower than usual trading activity with many investors being on holiday far away from their desk. It is the perfect time for a brief look at the prospects of the Hungarian macroeconomic environment for the second half of the year. Obviously the fiscal policy agenda remains the key factor for the short-term economic outlook.
Slovak diplomat takes over top job inÂ BosniaIn his first act as the international community’s new representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Miroslav Lajcak went on the offensive last Tuesday against war crimes suspects serving in the police and working for the state.
The President of Poland is a “liar” and his wife is a “witch”, according the head of Radio Maryja, a controversial Catholic, nationalist broadcaster which is normally intensely supportive of the governing right-wing coalition.
The US and the EU last week rewrote a draft resolution on the future status of the disputed province of Kosovo to omit the promise of independence if further negotiations with Serbia end in deadlock. The new draft would be a watered-down version of the previous one and instead of automatic independence would only include a promise to review the situation after more talks.
Gay debate in Hungarian politicsAlthough the topic of homosexuality often meets with incomprehension in Hungary, it is one of the most important symbolic ongoing debates in democratic countries. Its political weight arises firstly from the fact that it attracts a great deal of public attention, and secondly because it concerns fundamental human rights. After the human resources state secretary Gábor Szetey came out recently, the parties now have the opportunity to distinguish themselves from one another on this extremely divisive question.
Hatred toward homosexuals runs deep on the far rightBefore this year’s Gay Pride Festival, Árpád Tóth, one of the organisers told this newspaper: “We are not expecting any violence.” His prediction, however, turned out to be overly optimistic: for the first time in twelve years the event saw attacks on participants. Counter-demonstrators threw eggs at the parade and far-right symapthisers lay in wait for gays and lesbians after the event. The organisers said there were more than 20 attacks and two people had to be taken to hospital.
TheÂ Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) last week demanded an explanation from the Hungarian Chamber of Doctors (MOK) after an article attacking a high-ranking government official for coming out was published on its website.
Energy talksUkraine wants to set aside a large swathe of land to allow Hungary to build a massive gas storage facility in the neighbouring state, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said in Budapest last Tuesday.
Tongue-tied referendumFidesz’s plans to hold a referendum on government policy were in disarray last week after linguist László Kálmán submitted three questions to the National Election Committee (OVB) that covered the same themes but were worded exactly the opposite way.