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26th July, 2018

State secretary sees Orban growing in international stature



Prime Minister Viktor Orban has ended a record month for Hungarian diplomacy, as he has in recent weeks met the world’s most important leaders, Foreign Ministry state secretary Tamas Menczer told reporters yesterday.

He recalled that in recent weeks Orban met the German chancellor, the Chinese and Israeli prime ministers, the Russian and Turkish presidents and talked on the telephone to the American president and exchanged a few words with him at a NATO summit.

Orban was one of 16 East European leaders to meet with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang in Sofia, and one of only two EU leaders to attend the inauguration of Turkish President Erdogan. His meeting with Vladimir Putin materialised after Orban went to Moscow for the final of football’s World Cup.

“This means that the world’s leaders are paying attention to the Hungarian prime minister, and view him as a Central European prime minister whose opinion is important and is worth listening to,” Menczer said.

While his political opponents claim that Hungary is isolated, these meetings show that this is “baseless nonsense” and quite the opposite is true, he added.

Menczer said world leaders pay attention to Orban because his cabinet stopped the “dare to be small” policy typical of the Hungarian opposition, and Hungarian foreign policy behaves as is appropriate for a country with 1,000 years of statehood. “We respect everybody and we expect the same,” he added.

Secondly, Menczer said, the cabinet has always protected Hungarian interests, did not seek conflicts, nor did it avoid them.

The world’s leaders also pay attention to Hungary because the Orban cabinet has provided good answers to international challenges, he said, adding that Orban was the first prime minister in Europe to recognise the dangers of illegal immigration and Hungary was able to defend itself with its own resources.

These diplomatic successes may not be separated from Orban’s persona, Menczer went on: “he has been working for Hungarians for 30 years, either in government or in opposition and this continuity and consistency draw acclaim in the international arena”.

Menczer affirmed that the direction of Hungarian foreign policy will not change in the future; “it is in Hungary’s interest to have an EU based on strong nation states and to have pragmatic relations based on mutual respect with our eastern and southern partners.” (infostart.hu; origo.hu; hvg.hu; magyaridok.hu; hirado.hu; magyarhirlap.hu)
26th July, 2018

Fidesz popularity holding firm



Fidesz remains by far the most popular party in Hungary, even though most respondents feel that things are moving in a bad direction, according to a Zavecz Research poll made public on Wednesday.

Fidesz has the firm support of 33% of eligible voters for the third consecutive month, while that for Jobbik has fallen from 15% in May to 10% in July.

Another 37% of respondents did not express a party preference.

Fidesz has 55% support among decided voters, while Jobbik has 13%, down from 20% at the April 8 elections.

Some 49% of respondents said things are moving in a bad direction in Hungary, while 43% say things are going well.

Attitudes divided clearly along party lines, with 90% of Fidesz supporters saying good things are happening in Hungary, while 86-90% of opposition voters say things are getting worse. (index.hu; hvg.hu; atv.hu; 24.hu)
26th July, 2018

Putin is most admired world leader among Hungarians



Russian President Vladimir Putin is the world leader most admired by Hungarians, according to a poll conducted by Tenygyar.

Putin is followed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Putin was seen by 22% of respondents as the best leader among the world’s great powers. Merkel was second with 11%, and British Prime Minister Theresa May third with 8%, ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron with 7%.

US President Donald Trump received 4% of the votes. At the bottom of the list is Turkish President Recep Erdogan with 1%.

There was a big difference between the answers provided by those with post-secondary education and those without. Of the former only 13% favoured Putin, compared to 25% of the less educated. Merkel is the most popular among those with a degree, with 23% support, while only 6% of those without higher education degrees opted for her. (atv.hu)
26th July, 2018

Three more LMP politicians punished



Another three LMP politicians have been penalised severely by the party’s ethics committee, for having stepped aside in their individual constituencies in the April elections for the benefit of opposition candidates with a better chance of winning, against party policy.

Zoltan Sagosdi received a three-year ban from holding party positions. He withdrew for the benefit of Jobbik politician Lajos Kepli in Veszprem, but in the end Kepli did not win. Sagosdi will take legal action against LMP, as he may not run for any posts, nor can he be elected an MP, an MEP or local councillor.

Andras Renk was banned from party positions for 18 months. He stepped aside in favour of Szabolcs Szabo of the Together party in a Budapest constituency. Szabo defeated Fidesz vice-president Szilard Nemeth and then joined LMP’s caucus.

Botond Doszpoly was given a one-year ban, and will be eligible to run for LMP at the 2019 local elections. Doszpoly stepped aside in a Borsod county constituency but Fidesz won there in April. (zoom.hu; hvg.hu; 24.hu)
26th July, 2018

Ader sends condolences to Greece



President Janos Ader has sent his condolences to Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos because of the large-scale wildfire that has ravaged parts of his country.

The fires have claimed nearly 100 human lives and caused enormous damage.

Ader wished a speedy recovery to the injured on behalf of the Hungarian people. (magyarhirlap.hu; origo.hu; KR)
26th July, 2018

Hungary contributes aid to Laos



Hungary is sending water purifying equipment to Laos to help the country cope following the collapse of a dam at a water works company, the Foreign Ministry announced.

The disaster claimed many human lives, hundreds of people have disappeared and about 7,000 people have lost their homes, the ministry said.

The ministry contacted local authorities so as to take part in disaster response efforts as quickly and effectively as possible. (atv.hu; index.hu; blikk.hu; 24.hu; orientpr.hu)
26th July, 2018

VOSZ wants labour shift from public to private sector



About 100,000 civil servants and public workers could be redirected to the primary labour market to ease the dire labour shortage in the economy, according to president Ferenc David of employers association VOSZ.

He included in that estimate people working at state-owned companies and government officials.

The private sector is missing an estimated 200,000 employees, he said, while the 1-1.2 million people directly or indirectly employed by the state place a strain on the budget. (napi.hu; portfolio.hu; profitline.hu; hvg.hu)
26th July, 2018

Palinka to cost more after abolition of tax exemptions



The elimination of an exemption from the public health tax for fruit distillates could halve commercial sales of palinka, National Palinka Council chairman Laszlo Mihalyi has warned.

Parliament approved legislation scrapping the exemption from the tax of herbal liqueurs such as Zwack Unicum and fruit brandy palinka, after the European Commission ruled that the measure was against EU rules as it unduly favoured domestic producers.

Parliament also approved amendments to increase the public health tax, commonly referred to as the “chips tax” by 20%.

The new rules would raise the wholesale price of half a litre of palinka from Ft 4,000 to Ft 4,700, Mihalyi said.

He estimated that as much as half of the 2.1 million litres of 50% alcohol-by-volume palinka distilled for commercial sale in Hungary could disappear from the market.

The 22,000 home distilleries registered with the tax office could produce another 5-10 million litres of 50% palinka, he added. (vg.hu)
26th July, 2018

Szijjarto meets business leaders in Indianapolis



Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Peter Szijjarto was in Indianapolis on Wednesday for meetings with business leaders, including Deborah D. Dewey, president of Indiana-American Water, and Erika Nielsen, head of global affairs at the BorgWarner group, a producer of technology for hybrid and electric vehicles.

in a Wednesday speech, Szijjarto said the automotive and water management companies can boost economic co-operation between Hungary and the state of Indiana and contribute to the continued expansion of the Hungarian auto industry.

He recalled that Hungary and the state of Indiana signed an economic co-operation agreement last year, the first time Hungary had signed such an agreement with any state of the US.

Bilateral trade rose by 96% last year, topping $175 million, and rose by a further 22% in the first quarter of this year.

Szijjarto said he had reached an agreement with trade secretary Jim Schellinger on co-operation in water management and in the car industry. (magyarhirlap.hu; origo.hu)
26th July, 2018

EU court says Hernadi may be extradited



The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Wednesday that Hungary had no basis for refusing to execute a European warrant for the arrest of MOL chairman and CEO Zsolt Hernadi.

Hungarian prosecutors argued that Hernadi could not be extradited to Croatia because an investigation found that no crime had been committed.

However, the Luxembourg court ruled that argument invalid, saying the execution of a European arrest warrant cannot be refused on the ground that a decision of the Public Prosecutor’s Office has closed a criminal investigation when, during that investigation, the requested person was interviewed as a witness only.

Croatian authorities issued the warrant after Hernadi was accused of giving a €10 million bribe to then Prime Minister Ivo Sanader in 2009 in order to have MOL gain a controlling stake in Croatian oil company INA.

Croatian authorities asked their Hungarian counterparts in 2011 to question Hernadi as a suspect and to deliver a summons to him.

Hungary did not comply. At the same time, the National Bureau of Investigation opened its own investigation into Hernadi, which was closed in early 2012 on the grounds that no crime had been committed.

Croatia then issued a European warrant for Hernadi’s arrest in 2013, after Croatia joined the EU.

However, the Hungarian authorities refused to execute the warrant on the ground that criminal proceedings had already been closed in Hungary in the matter.

After Hungarian authorities failed to execute another warrant issued by a Zagreb court in December 2015, the court asked the ECJ to rule on the matter.

In concluding, the ECJ said “the execution of a European arrest warrant cannot be refused on the basis of a decision of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which closed an investigation opened against an unknown person, during which the person who is the subject of that arrest warrant was interviewed as a witness only, without criminal proceedings having been brought against that person and where the decision was not taken in respect of that person”.

The ECJ did not refer to Hernadi by name, but as AY, described as “a Hungarian national, is the chairman of the board of directors of a Hungarian company against whom criminal proceedings have been initiated in Croatia”. (24.hu; curia.europa.eu; napi.hu; portfolio.hu; profitline.hu; hvg.hu)
26th July, 2018

Digi targets investments of Ft 12-15bn



Infocommunications company Digi targets capital expenditures of Ft 12-15 billion this year, following its recent purchase of Invitel, the company announced.

That acquisition made Digi the leader in the television segment with a 30.4% market share.

The purchase also lifted the company to the number two position in the fixed-line internet and telephone segments, with market shares of 24.8% and 22.7%, respectively.

Digi acquired Invitel’s retail and small business subscribers a year ago for Ft 43 billion. The transaction was cleared by the Competition Office in May.

The number of Digi subscribers rose to 1.1 million and the company reported after-tax profit of Ft 2.2 billion last year on revenue of Ft 46.2 billion.

Digi is owned by Digi Communications, registered in the Netherlands and listed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange.

Digi Communications, majority owned by businessman Zoltan Teszari, is also a big player on the Romanian telecoms market through its subsidiaries RCS and RDS. (ma.hu; portfolio.hu; hvg.hu; 24.hu; napi.hu)
26th July, 2018

Ryanair flights cancelled



Irish budget airline Ryanair cancelled its Budapest-Barcelona flights for Wednesday and Thursday because of a strike.

Ryanair flight crews in Belgium, Portugal, Italy and Spain announced a two-day strike starting Wednesday, the biggest in the history of the airline.

Ryanair is also cancelling its two flights on Thursday evening between Budapest and Brussels Charleroi Airport.

On Tuesday, the Budapest Government Office launched a procedure against the airline. This comes after the second case in as many weeks when Ryanair forced passengers to leave checked-in luggage behind, citing the overload of its aircraft.

The announcement led to scrambles and many passengers chose not to board the plane. Many have launched complaints and sought compensation.

A Ryanair flight from Budapest arrived in Dublin without baggage on Monday, HVG reports. (propeller.hu; hvg.hu; 24.hu; napi.hu; portfolio.hu)
26th July, 2018

Legendary sports reporter dies at 96



Sports reporter Gyorgy Szepesi, one of the greatest figures in the history of Hungarian Radio, died on Wednesday at the age of 96, Nemzeti Sport learned from his family.

Szepesi reported to Hungarian listeners on the Olympics from London in 1948 to the 2012 games held in the same city, and gave live broadcasts of all football World Cups from 1954 to 2010, as well as Hungary’s legendary 6-3 victory over England at Wembley Stadium in 1953.

He was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest active sports reporter.

Szepesi was born in 1922 in Budapest under the name Gyorgy Friedlander. His father died at the Buchenwald concentration camp.

Szepesi first received a job as a reporter in 1945, later becoming head of the entertainment and sports section of Magyar Radio in 1981-92, president of the Hungarian Football Association in 1979-86 and a member of the FIFA executive committee in 1982-94.

Szepesi was an agent of the communist-era secret services in the 1950s and 1960s.

Under the alias “Galambos” he was an informer for the Political Investigation Section of the Interior Ministry, specialising in spying on internal reactionary forces.

At the confrontation with revolutionaries outside Magyar Radio in 1956, Szepesi stood on the balcony above the main entrance to the building, trying in vain to calm the crowd and persuade them to go home. The crowd threw stones at him, prompting Szepesi to take shelter in the building.

His funeral will be arranged by the Sports Journalists Federation, the Football Association and Budapest city council. (index.hu; nemzetisport.hu; magyarhirlap.hu; hvg.hu; hirado.hu; origo.hu)
26th July, 2018

Men’s sabre team wins bronze



The Hungarian men’s sabre team won the bronze medal at the world fencing championships in Vuhsi, China on Wednesday.

The team of Arond Szilagyi, Andras Szatmari, Csanad Gemesi and Tamas Decsi lost 45-42 to Italy, whom they beat last month in the final of the European championships.

This was the first medal for the Hungarian team at this year’s world championships. (atv.hu; 24.hu; origo.hu; 444.hu; index.hu)
26th July, 2018

Women lose water polo title



The Dutch women’s national team defeated Hungary 8-7 in a semi-final game at the European Water Polo Championships in Barcelona on Wednesday afternoon.

The win constitutes revenge for the Dutch following their loss to Hungary in the 2016 final. (hirtv.hu; index.hu; hvg.hu; TV)
26th July, 2018

New film invited to Venice festival



Napszallta (“Sunset”) the second feature film from Oscar-winning director Laszlo Nemes of Son of Saul fame, has been invited to the official competition of the Venice Film Festival, it was announced on Wednesday.

The last Hungarian production to receive such an invitation was Ildiko Enyedi’s Buvos vadasz (“Magic Hunter”) in 1994.

This year’s festival starts on August 29. The movie will also be shown at the Toronto Film Festival in September.

The film is due to be released in Hungary on September 27.

Another Hungarian production will have its world premiere in the Venice festival’s Biennale College Cinema section.

That production, Deva, is a debut feature film by director Petra Szocs.

The story centres on an Albino girl who lives in an orphanage and becomes friendly with a new volunteer, but can only express her friendship by betraying somebody else.

The film develops a magic and surrealistic dimension of a child’s way of seeing things, HVG writes. (444.hu; hvg.hu; origo.hu


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