VMSZ gain local votes
The Alliance of Hungarians in Vojvodina (VMSZ) has taken a step forward during the Yugoslav elections and thereby improved the prospects of Hungarians in the area, VMSZ Vice-President László Józsa said last week. The situation of the Hungarians however continues to look uncertain and Józsa said that the VMSZ in the coming week would ask Hungarian communities whether they would seek limited or full dual citizenship from Hungary.
VMSZ Chairman József Kasza has reportedly promised to begin a campaign to collect signatures in Vojvodina to support the World Federation of Hungarians' (MVSZ) bill on citizenship for Hungarians in neighbouring states. Last week József Torgyán, Smallholder chairman and minister of agriculture, lent his party's support to the MVSZ bill, and said he would ask Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for his backing.
Meanwhile, MTI reports that President Ferenc Mádl said on Thursday that the Yugoslav opposition's election victory "marks the first historic step on the road taking Yugoslavia back to the mainstream of ten years of irreversible democratic advancement in the region."
Government spokesman Gábor Horváth rejected speculation that a government in exile would be formed by Vojislav Koštunica, and said that most important now is for the opposition in Yugoslavia to put into effect the election result. Earlier in the week Horváth said that Hungary supports the lifting of sanctions, in order to "pave the way to develop bilateral relations in all walks of life."
Orbán down under
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán spent much of last week in Australia, thus becoming the first Hungarian prime minister to visit the country. On 27 September, Orbán gave a Millennium flag to the Hungarian communities in Australia and New Zealand. The Prime Minister said that the flag was first presented in Australia as the Hungarian communities there "are the farthest away from the motherland and because they make an excellent stand in the fifth continent."
Orbán also visited the Olympic village, where he congratulated the Hungarian team on their results, but added, "I can see that here at the Olympics it is also our women that are stronger, better and more successful. They will save the day for Hungary."
Also in Australia, the Prime Minister laid a wreath on the grave of Tibor Csík, who won a boxing gold medal at the 1948 London games. Csík left Hungary after 1956 and spent the next 20 years in Australia.
Governing parties not split
The three governing parties—FIDESZ-Hungarian Civic Party, the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) and the Smallholders (FKGP)—have dismissed suggestions that a rift developed after the parties several times had failed to vote in unison in Parliament last week. As FIDESZ parliamentary deputy leader Róbert Répássy put it, though the parties govern together, each party remains independent; while FKGP House leader Attila Bánk said that the way recent votes had gone was a "mere coincidence."
In the meantime, according to a September poll by Szonda Ipsos, the lead by Socialists (MSZP) over FIDESZ has shrunk from 18 to 10 per cent in three months. The Socialists are now at 43 per cent, while the Young Democrats have a 33 per cent backing.
Demszky in line for Free Dem top job
After Bálint Magyar's recent resignation from the post of Free Democrat (SZDSZ) president, Budapest Mayor Gábor Demszky is now favourite to succeed him. In August, Demszky stated that he would be willing to take the job for the 2002 elections if he could select 30 per cent of the names on the national list.
Demszky has criticised Magyar for his unsuccessful attempt to improve the party's standing since the 1998 elections. In the 1990 and 1994 elections the party received more than 20 per cent of votes, while it is currently still lingering around six per cent.
Demszky aims to clearly distance the SZDSZ from the Socialists, at the same time keeping its distance from both the left and right. After Magyar's resignation, the SZDSZ board has decided to hold the election of officials in December of this year instead of next spring.
Zámoly Roma not welcome in Strasbourg
Marie-Hélène Gillig, deputy Mayor of Strasbourg and a member of the European Parliament, has said that the case of the Romani families from Zámoly will not damage Hungary's EU accession but must be resolved. Gillig had previously criticised Hungary, saying that the families had left Hungary due to racism and persecution. Gillig now says that the Romani families would be better off in Hungary and that it was unlikely that France will grant them political asylum.
Until a decision has been made, the Roma will however remain in Strasbourg. Two MSZP MPs, who visited Strasbourg last week, criticised the Government for not making any attempt to contact the families. The Roma themselves say that they definitely do not want to return to Hungary. József Krasznai, deputy chairman of the Roma parliament, has meanwhile has asked the Prime Minister to hold direct talks with Romani representatives to improve the situation of the minority group.
More Hungarian POWs in Russia?
The general director of the National Psychiarty and Neurology Institute, András Veér, is expected to return to Russia in October to look for more Hungarian prisoners of war from the Second World War.
Veér will visit institutions similar to the one in Kotelnich, where he found András Tamás (now believed to be András Toma), who had been institutionalised for over 50 years after being captured on the Eastern Front. It is still unclear what happened to tens of thousands of Hungarian soldiers who disappeared during the war.
Remnants of Stalinism
Budapest City Council opposition parties have criticised the Socialists (MSZP) and the Free Democrats (SZDSZ) for not taking part and abstaining respectively from voting on a Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIÉP) proposal to remove former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin from the list of Budapest honorary citizens in light of his crimes against humanity.
According to András Bőhm (SZDSZ), there is nothing to remove from the list as Stalin's name is not on any government decree. Mayor Gábor Demszky also stressed that Stalin's name has not appeared on any government decree since the collapse of Communism.
Paul Nemes, 29 September 2000
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