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17th May, 2018

Orban to double military spending

“We want a strong army that can vie with that of any other nation,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban declared yesterday as he announced that the government will double spending on military matters.

At a ceremony in Parliament where new armed forces chief of staff Ferenc Korom was instated, Orban said “history teaches us that the nation that cannot defend itself does not deserve to exist, and a strong Hungary cannot exist without a strong army”.

Orban said the ceremony was held next to the crown in the cupola hall of Parliament because it was a tradition in Hungarian coronations that the new king would ride atop the coronation hill and point his sword towards the four points of the compass, to show that he would defend the nation. “The crown is here in the heart of Parliament to regularly remind us that the defence of Hungary is not NATO’s duty or the EU’s, but ours”.

The new chief of staff must reorganise the armed forces, he added.

Korom succeeds Tibor Benko as chief of staff, as the latter is the new defence minister.

Korom took his credentials as chief of staff from President Janos Ader.

Korom’s commission runs to May 15, 2023. (hvg.hu; magyarhirlap.hu; atv.hu; 444.hu; magyaridok.hu; origo.hu)
17th May, 2018

43% are happy with election results

Roughly the same number of Hungarians are unhappy as are pleased about the outcome of the parliamentary elections, according to a poll conducted by Zavecz Research in the first week of May, as commissioned by Index.

Dissatisfaction with the outcome tends to be greater among those with higher school qualifications.

Voters received the final results with mixed feelings, as 43% are pleased to see Fidesz win, while 40% wanted the governing party to lose this time.

More than 33% of those who did not vote take a positive view of the Fidesz victory, while 40% were indifferent.

Not all Fidesz voters were happy that the party won a two-thirds majority, but 73% of them were pleased.

Most Fidesz voters said they supported the party because measures adopted by the Fidesz cabinet were more favourable for them than steps taken by former governments.

The refugee campaign was the most important component for rural dwellers, while this was only the fourth most important factor for Fidesz voters in Budapest.

The opposition parties lost about 800,000 voters by failing to win over those who did not vote but would have preferred a change of government, Zavecz said. (index.hu; klubradio.hu; merce.hu; 24.hu; hvg.hu)
17th May, 2018

Socialists to confront new cabinet with “harmful acts”

Cabinet minister-designates are pretending that it was not Fidesz that was in power in the past eight years, therefore the Socialist Party-Dialogue alliance will confront them with the “wickedness” of recent years, opposition parties said yesterday.

Assessing committee hearings of designated cabinet ministers this week, caucus leader Bertalan Toth told reporters that the candidates did not answer questions, but acted as if they had only now gained power and that their “tragic damage” to education, health care and the social sector had not happened.

Toth called Human Resources Minister Zoltan Balog one of the guiltiest ministers. He said the outgoing minister may be proud only that Good Friday has been made a holiday, as in recent years 30,000 people died of curable diseases, emigration by doctors and nurses reached new highs, and the number of filled family doctor positions declined drastically.

The situation is also tragic in education, he said, as teachers keep leaving the profession, the number of functional illiterates has continued to rise and 10,000 children were ejected from the education system when the age limit for compulsory schooling was reduced.

He added that in coming days the Socialist-Dialogue alliance will submit written questions to the Orban cabinet to which it did not receive answers. (magyarhirlap.hu; merce.hu; 24.hu; atv.hu; hvg.hu)
17th May, 2018

Fewer police patrolling borders

Police officers have been called back from the Serbia-Hungary border due to an easing of the migration crisis, residents living near the southern border fence told HirTV.

Interior Minister Sandor Pinter declined to reveal details, but merely said “the number of police officers is adjusted to the degree of the task”.

Local residents in Roszke said they have not seen any refugees for years.

They are happy with the quiet that prevails now that that there are fewer police officers and police cars at the southern border.

Csongrad county police did not divulge how many police officers had been withdrawn from the border.

Pinter said “at present there are exactly as many police officers as are required by the assignment”.

He said the border fence is successful therefore the government will choose this solution at other border stretches as well, if necessary.

Police officers nationwide have caught 33 migrants since May 1, HirTV adds. (hirtv.hu; 444.hu)
17th May, 2018

Hungary rejects migration reform plan

Hungarian officials vehemently attacked a proposal on immigration put forward by Bulgaria, holder of the rotating EU presidency, in Brussels on Tuesday evening.

An unnamed EU diplomat said Hungary stated that the proposal only serves the interests of Germany.

Two other diplomats confirmed that, with one saying that a civilised debate took place and “the Hungarians didn’t mention explicitly Germany, but it’s clear that … basically they were accusing them of being slaves to Berlin”.

According to English-language news site Politico, HVG writes, the proposal attempts to bridge the gap between frontline states such as Italy and Greece – which say current EU rules place too great a burden on the country in which asylum seekers first arrive in Europe – and countries such as Hungary and Poland, which refuse to be part of any plan that makes relocating refugees mandatory.

According to the Bulgarian proposal, relocation of migrants within the EU would occur only in exceptional cases, but member states would be expected to take in new arrivals to the EU seeking asylum.

The Hungarians did not comment on the negotiations. (hvg.hu; figyelo.hu; infostart.hu; magyarhirlap.hu; magyaridok.hu; napi.hu)

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