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19th March, 2018

Orban sticks to migration and Soros themes in March 15 speech

Prime Minister Viktor Orban spoke almost exclusively about migration and George Soros in his 25-minute speech on Kossuth ter on March 15, marking the anniversary of the start of the 1848 War of independence.

Tens of thousands of supporters who joined the Peace March at times in drizzle and at times pouring rain, had arrived on Kossuth ter to hear the speech.

Fidesz said the Peace March was the largest ever.

Orban said the continued existence of the country, rather than victory or continued governing is at stake at the April 8 elections.

He said he expects one “Soros candidate” to oppose Fidesz in every constituency.

On migration, he declared “they want to take our country away, not with the stroke of a pen like in Trianon 100 years ago, now they want us to cede the country of our own volition in a few decades to others, to strangers arriving from other continents, who do not speak our language, do not respect our culture, law and way of life: people who want to replace what is ours with what is theirs.”

Orban appeared to indicate that he would take revenge on unspecified parties should he win re-election as he said “our opponents will stop at nothing: they will not argue, but censor; they will not fight, but pinch, kick, bite and sow hatred wherever they go,” adding “we are calm and good-humoured people, but we are neither blind nor gullible. After the election we will of course seek amends – moral, political and legal amends – but we cannot waste our strength or our time on that now.”

Invoking rhetoric traditionally associated with anti-Semitism, Orban said “we must fight against an opponent which is different from us. Their faces are not visible, but are hidden from view; they do not fight directly, but by stealth; they are not honourable, but unprincipled; they are not national, but international; they do not believe in work, but speculate with money; they have no homeland, but feel that the whole world is theirs.”

Speaking against Soros directly, he said “Ultimately we sent home the sultan with his janissaries, the Habsburg emperor with his soldiers, the Soviets with their comrades, and now we shall send home Uncle Gyuri with his network. We are asking you to go back to America and make Americans happy instead.” (index.hu)
19th March, 2018

Opposition in new drive for unity

Opposition-party efforts to co-operate in a bid to unseat Fidesz grew in intensity over the weekend, as leaders of the Socialist, LMP and Democratic Coalition parties met in the Democratic Coalition’s Budapest office on Sunday evening.

In addition, LMP leader Bernadett Szel is due to meet Jobbik president Gabor Vona on Monday.

In a reversal of his previous stance, Democratic Coalition president Ferenc Gyurcsany invited Jobbik to Sunday’s meeting, but the right-wing party maintains its refusal to work with the Socialist, Democratic Coalition or Fidesz parties.

Sunday’s talks lasted for 90 minutes, but no agreement was reached.

Socialist-Dialogue candidate Gergely Karacsony said the talks were the start of a process, while Szel described the talks as worthwhile, but said complete opposition co-operation is necessary.

Regarding the absence of Jobbik, Karacsony said there could be tactical co-operation between that party and the left wing.

Szel told ATV Friday morning that she would work until Monday to ensure that as many parties as possible will co-operate in the elections.

”When the prime minister begins to issue threats on the national day, let us note that a new era has begun. I do not want to speak about future governing with anybody for the time being. First, let us reach the point that Viktor Orban should never be in a position to threaten anybody,” Szel declared.

On Saturday Szel told a gathering in Vienna that it is unacceptable that the prime minister should threaten the opposition. Szel said it is possible based on what the prime minister said in his March 15 speech that the opposition would be annihilated in the event of another Fidesz victory. (hvg.hu; hirtv.hu; 444.hu; zoom.hu; mno.hu)
19th March, 2018

Students protest for new policies

Thousands of people joined a demonstration organised by the Independent Students Parliament outside the Opera House on Thursday evening, with many coming from the rally held by left-wing parties at Fovam ter.

The group of secondary school students, organiser of successful demonstrations in January and February, demonstrated for “modern 21st-century education” at the Opera.

They assigned marks representing failure to the government and said that an alternative exam will be held on April 8.

Finally they went to the National Museum where some people climbed over the fence and brandished an EU flag on the steps of the Museum, but no major disturbances occurred. (index.hu)
19th March, 2018

Orban visits crisis centre

Prime Minister Viktor Orban visited the Budapest headquarters of Hungary’s crisis response centre on Saturday, accompanied by Interior Minister Sandor Pinter, due to what government-friendly website Origo calls the “extreme” weather in March.

In a video posted on his website, Orban said he wanted to see how the authorities were preparing to cope with a situation when on Sunday presumably tens of thousands of Hungarians were returning home on snow-covered and icy roads.

Orban instructed Pinter to order all staff members to make themselves available if needed in order to help those Hungarians who would be heading home despite the poor weather conditions, following the long holiday weekend. (origo.hu; nepszava.hu; mno.hu; magyarhirlap.hu)
19th March, 2018

Fidesz support rises in polls

Fidesz gained in popularity from January to March, as support for the ruling party rose from 53% to 54% among decided voters and from 37% to 39% among all eligible voters, according to the latest Median poll conducted for the weekly HVG.

The poll was conducted during March 2-7 following the mayoral by-election in Hodmezovasarhely.

Some 26% of respondents did not know or would not say which party they would vote for, representing 600,000 “active but uncertain” voters.

The proportion saying they intend to cast a ballot rose from 56% to 60%, roughly the same as four years ago.

Incumbent Viktor Orban could count on the votes of 46-47% of the population, while his closest challenger Gergely Karacsony has the support of 28%, followed by LMP prime ministerial candidate Bernadett Szel with 25%, Jobbik president Gabor Vona 20% and Democratic Coalition leader Ferenc Gyurcsany with 19%.

Meanwhile, a Publicus poll made public on Sunday shows that neither the Elios, Kosa nor Szita scandals were able to shake core Fidesz voters, website 24 writes.

The poll conducted for the weekly Vasarnapi Hirek shows that among eligible voters Fidesz has 27% support, a 1% rise, and 49% support among decided party voters. The Socialists are second with 15% and 18% support, followed by Jobbik with 14% and 17%, LMP with 7% and 8%, and the Democratic Coalition with 4% and 5%.

Undecided voters make up 36% of the total, a drop of 2%, in the survey conducted during March 9-14. (hvg.hu; magyarhirlap.hu; 24.hu; index.hu; mno.hu)
19th March, 2018

Fidesz supporters trust Russia most

A large part of the Hungarian population is rather negative towards Russia but a group of Fidesz supporters expressly considers Russia in positive terms, according to a Median poll conducted for the website 444.

When respondents were asked about the six great powers of the world, it emerged that Hungarians like Russia the least and have the best opinion of Great Britain, Germany and France. The US and China precede Russia.

Russia garnered 48 points, being the only great power to receive fewer than 50 points. However, Fidesz supporters rated Russia with 59 points.

Fidesz voters appear to be the least committed to the West, as when they were asked whether Hungary should maintain closer relations with the US or Russia, the majority opted for Russia only among Fidesz supporters.

It is due to Fidesz supporters that Vladimir Putin is considered the second most favoured out of seven international personalities in Hungary. Only Pope Francis preceded Putin. (444.hu; index.hu)
19th March, 2018

Szijjarto obtained Soros scholarship

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto received a scholarship from the Soros Foundation to study in the US when he was a high school student, 444 reports.

The future foreign minister was one of a dozen or so Hungarians selected from 1,500 applicants, who spent half a year in the US with support from the foundation in 1995.

In an interview with local newspaper Kisalfold, published on January 24, 1996, he said “I left without anguish, I thought I could easily trust the Soros Foundation”.

Szijjarto said his plane ticket and insurance were paid for and he received a weekly allowance of $75 while in the US.

He related his first experiences about the great distances and about how defining sport is in the life of American high school students.

“This happened 23 years ago, Peter Szijjarto was 17 years old, and George Soros at the time did not want to flood Europe with illegal immigrants,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement Sunday afternoon. (444.hu; hvg.hu; mno.hu; index.hu)
19th March, 2018

Reuters reports on Balaton dealings

Reuters news agency has published a lengthy report on how family and friends of Prime Minister Viktor Orban have profited from state and EU funds in projects around Lake Balaton.

Orban wants to spend Ft 3 billion on tourism until 2030 in Hungary, and almost half of it will go to Lake Balaton, according to Reuters, with 40% of the money coming from the EU and 60% from Hungary.

Orban’s son-in-law Istvan Tiborcz, along with Felcsut mayor Lorincs Meszaros and their associates have acquired the seven most prominent waterfront properties in Keszthely since 2014.

Peter Kreko, chief analyst at the Political Capital think tank, told Reuters that Orban and his associates have a clear system: “They build positions in sectors and prepare for the arrival of public funds.” (index.hu; 24.hu; reuters.com)
19th March, 2018

MTV fined for political bias

The National Election Committee (NVB) has fined state-run MTV more than Ft 1 million after finding that it had violated basic principles of the electoral process, as for weeks it in effect operated as a Fidesz party station.

Opposition members of the election committee pointed out that all opposition parties were banned from MTV’s morning programmes from February 28 to March 13.

In its reply to the NVB, MTV did not deny the violation of law. (hvg.hu; hirtv.hu)
19th March, 2018

Hungary issues Samurai bonds

Hungary issued JPY30 billion worth of Samurai bonds for the first time in more than ten years last Wednesday.

The three-year bonds carry a 0.37% coupon but have a yield of 0.6% after conversion into euros, which is a historic low, the Economy Ministry said.

Hungary issued JPY200 billion worth of bonds in 2004 in five transactions, followed by a ten-year JPY25 billion issuance in October 2007, which expired last year.

The ministry hailed the €227 million issue as a milestone event, making up one-third of the total foreign-denominated bond issues planned for this year.

Gyorgy Barcza, head of the state debt manager AKK, observed that Asian investors buy for the long term, and hold on to papers until maturity.

Hungary plans to issue €1 billion of foreign-currency debt this year, below the €2.3 billion due to mature.

Barcza said reducing the share of foreign-currency debt within the overall state debt remains the government’s goal.

The AKK expects foreign-currency debt to fall below 20% of the overall debt next year, from 22% at present. (napi.hu; hvg.hu; tozsdeforum.hu; profitline.hu)
19th March, 2018

January industrial growth confirmed

Hungary’s industrial output increased 6.9% year-on-year in January, rebounding from a 0.5% year-on-year drop in December, according to detailed figures from the Central Statistics Office.

Working-day adjusted data show output up 6.7%.

The sector’s expansion has been broad-based, with growth registered in 11 of the 13 subsectors, the Economy Ministry said.

Growth in pharmaceutical, rubber, metal products and wood product manufacturing was up by double digits.

The production of transport equipment – accounting for 29% of manufacturing output – was 5.2% higher year-on-year.

The manufacture of parts and accessories for motor vehicles went up 10.5%, whereas the manufacture of motor vehicles saw a 0.9% drop.

The ministry said investment subsidies for large companies which are not eligible for EU funding and the 9% flat-rate corporate tax are also facilitating industrial output growth.

The automotive and electronics segments could have a strong year, which could lay the foundations for industrial output growth of as much as 8% this year, up from 4.8% in 2017, said ING Bank chief analyst Peter Virovacz.

New capacities in vehicle manufacturing could lift output to 7.5% in 2018, but labour shortages could hamper stronger output growth, TakarekBank observes. (profitline.hu; portfolio.hu; hvg.hu; 24.hu; napi.hu; tozsdeforum.hu)
19th March, 2018

Pension funds show hefty yields

The average real yield on private pension funds was near 5% last year and has exceeded inflation by 3.5% per year over the last ten years, the MNB announced.

Returns on the type of assets vary greatly based on risk taking, it said.

Yields were lower for clients who chose the portfolio with the most conservative investment strategy, which only invested in ultra-safe government bonds.

Portfolios investing in riskier assets, such as stocks had the highest yields last year, the MNB said, adding that the best performing pension fund recorded an annual 15.6% yield.

The MNB said it is important that people start saving for their pensions during their active years, recommending that they set aside 3-9% of their monthly earnings.

There is a 20% tax break for payments into pension funds of up to Ft 500,000 each year, the MNB pointed out. (privatbankar.hu; tozsdeforum.hu; portfolio.hu; hvg.hu; napi.hu)
19th March, 2018

OTP’s Romanian acquisition blocked

Romania’s central bank has rejected OTP’s purchase of Banca Romaneasca, without providing an explanation.

This is the first time since the financial crisis that the Romanian central bank has vetoed the acquisition of a bank.

There were no explanations given for the decision, as information acquired during the supervision of the transaction is treated as business secrets.

OTP announced in July that it had agreed to buy 99.3% of Banca Romaneasca from the National Bank of Greece Group for an undisclosed sum.

OTP hoped thereby to become the eighth largest bank in Romania, boosting its market share with the takeover to 4%. (profitline.hu; napi.hu; portfolio.hu; hvg.hu; tozsdeforum.hu)
19th March, 2018

Audi reports slight growth in revenues

Revenues of Audi Hungaria rose 1% to €7.1 billion last year, while pre-tax profit reached €367 million, the company announced.

The Hungarian unit of the German carmaker manufactured 1.96 million engines, up 1.9% from the previous year and turned out 105,491 vehicles, a 16.5% decline from 2016.

Audi’s staff level stood at an all-time high of 12,307 at the end of 2017, an annual 5.8% increase.

Capital expenditures surged 45% to €442 million, bringing total investment over the last 25 years to €8.75 billion.

Audi is preparing to launch serial production of electric engines and the production of the new SUV Audi Q3 in Hungary. Bodies for the new models will be made in an 80,000m2 production hall.

For the production of e-engines, Audi will implement a completely new production concept based on modular technology. (napi.hu; portfolio.hu; 24.hu; hvg.hu; hirado.hu)
19th March, 2018

Erbsloh plans Ft 14bn investment

German-owned Erbsloh Hungaria is to begin a Ft 14 billion investment to expand capacity at its factory in Gyor, which will become the Central and Eastern European production centre of the car parts supplier.

The government provided a Ft 3 billion subsidy for the construction of the 1500m2 production plant, Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Peter Szijjarto said at the ceremony.

Erbsloh Hungaria was founded in 1998, producing automotive trim and functional elements. (napi.hu; hvg.hu)
19th March, 2018

K&H’s personal loan unit soars

K&H bank reported a 64% annual rise in personal loans last year to Ft 24 billion, as the market expanded robustly, up 47% to Ft 300 billion.

Factors in the expansion were falling yields, higher household income, and delayed purchases postponed since the crisis, said K&H director of retail lending, Gabor Rajnai.

The full credit-cost rate halved to 14.5% in five years, on average, which on a Ft 1 million loan means a monthly saving of Ft 7,000.

The average size of personal loans last year was Ft 1.14 million and their maturity was 50 months. (napi.hu; portfolio.hu; origo.hu; gazdport.hu)
19th March, 2018

GVH takes action against Orangeways

The competition authority GVH has issued an Ft 85.4 million fine to Pivot-Consulting, a company which operated bus services under the umbrella of coach operator Orangeways.

The GVH suspended the operation of the website of long-distance coach operator Orangeways in December because the company lacked the necessary licenses, and called on it to stop selling tickets online.

If the company under investigation does not abide by the ruling, the GVH will ask the host of the website to remove it. (adozona.hu; portfolio.hu; 24.hu; napi.hu)
19th March, 2018

Court sentences Ahmed H. to seven years in prison

The Szeged Court on Wednesday sentenced to seven years in prison Syrian Ahmed Hamed, on charges of terrorism and entering Hungary illegally.

He is also banned from entering Hungary for ten years after serving his sentence.

Hamed threw rocks at border police during a disturbance at Roszke on September 16, 2015, an act classified as terrorism.

A resident of Cyprus at the time, Hamed had been escorting his parents as they fled from Syria to Europe.

As the verdict is open to appeal, a second-instance court will try the case. (index.hu; 444.hu; 24.hu; hirado.hu; origo.hu)

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