Central Europe Review Balkan Information Exchange
Vol 2, No 34
9 October 2000
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News from Hungary
All the important news
since 30 September 2000

Paul Nemes

Reactions to Yugoslav situation

Speaking following Thursday's events in Yugoslavia, Foreign Minister János Martonyi declared that he expects that the election results to be respected without any use of violence by the authorities and added that the Hungarian Government is in constant consultation with NATO regarding the changing situation of Hungarians in Vojvodina.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, speaking during a visit to Paris, pointed out that the Hungarians in Vojvodina demand special attention, and French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin provided assurances that the international community would be following the situation of Hungarians.

Before breaking off his visit to Paris prematurely, the Prime Minister, who confirmed his backing of Vojislav Koštunica as Yugoslavia's new president, also pleaded with the international community not to tolerate another ethnic cleansing, this time against Hungarians, recalling that Slobodan Milošević had openly threatened Yugoslavia's Hungarian population in a speech on 2 October.

In line with an earlier statement by the Prime Minister, Colonel General Lajos Fodor said that the Hungarian Armed Forces had taken no special measures as there had been "no event whatsoever which would call for any military action," while the border guards confirmed that the border had not been reinforced. László Garamvölgyi of the National Police Headquarters (ORFK), however said there are plans on place for reinforcing the southern border if the situation should demand it.

Earlier in the week Martonyi had said: "The Hungarian community of Vojvodina as a whole stands alongside the democratic forces. If democracy prevails, it will a little bit be the victory of the Hungarian minority."


PM and FM push for speedy enlargement

Viktor Orbán and János Martonyi launched a "diplomatic offensive" for enlargement in Paris on 5 October, HVG reports. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister are pushing for enlargement in groups, with the most prepared to join at an earlier date. Martonyi, who received the Commandant order of the Legion D'Honneur, announced that he expects a "clear signal" on the pace of membership negotiations to come out of the Nice meeting in December.

Speaking on French radio on Thursday, Martonyi reiterated that Hungary takes the position that no candidate country is under obligation to wait for other countries, adding that enlargement in smaller groups seems the most viable option. Pierre Moscovici, the French minister for European affairs, meanwhile pointed to the "Helsinki formula," saying that the EU should reform itself in order to be ready to admit new members by 1 January 2003.


Orbán in Dresden

Speaking on behalf of the Visegrád Four at the ceremony for the 10th anniversary of Germany's unification in Dresden, Prime Minister Orbán said that there could be no "common Europe" without the reunification of Germany. Orbán also said that the unification of Germany only was the beginning of the process, and added that as long as the Czech republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia are not part of the European Union, "German unification cannot be considered complete."

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who praised Hungary for opening up the Iron Curtain, stated that Germany, and its economic power, is behind enlargement. French President Jaques Chirac said he would like to see a "fast lane" for those countries that can proceed towards membership at a faster pace.

In an article published in Die Welt on 2 October, Orbán said that Hungary would be ready for EU membership by 2002, and saw no reasons as to why enlargement could not go ahead in 2003 "if a genuine differentiation between the candidates" is made.

The Prime Minister also remarked: "History has given a great chance to our generation and expects us to display responsibility, predictability and reliability. We are confident that the Federal Republic of Germany and the other EU members feel that Europe is incomplete without the Central European states."


Defence funds to Smallholder paper

It has emerged that the Ministry of Defence, run by the Smallholders (FKGP), has indirectly funded a Smallholder newspaper, Kis Újság. The transfer of funds was discovered by Ministry of Defence spokesman Zoltán Szokolay, who recently was relieved of his post. A monthly sum of HUF 800,000 have been transferred to Kis Újság's publisher, Arculat Kft, with Szokolay claiming that 96 per cent of the Ministry's HUF ten million (USD 2700) NATO communications fund has been transferred to the paper.

The Ministry of Defence and the Smallholders deny that either Kis Újság or Arculat was funded by NATO communications funds, but do admit to having signed a contract with the publisher. According to Magyar Nemzet, Defence Committee Chairman Zsolt Lányi said he would put the issue of an investigation into the matter "on the agenda" after having received a letter suggesting this from Socialist MP Ferenc Juhász.

On Wednesday, Defence Minister János Szabó, who denies any previous knowledge of the alleged indirect funding of the paper, said he would instigate an inquiry into the matter. On the same day, Arculat executive manager Tibor Borsovszky acknowledged that funds from the Defence Ministry were transferred to the weekly, which in return published articles connected to the Ministry and NATO.


Arad commemorations & signatures

Romanian authorities provided assurances that they would prevent any disturbance of the 6 October commemoration of the Martyrs of Arad—13 Hungarian officers executed following the 1848 to 1849 War of Independence. Last year, the commemoration was marred by anti-Hungarian outbursts. Local authorities said that this year Romanian nationalist groups had planned to disturb the commemorations.

Meanwhile, Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ) Chairman Béla Markó and Romanian Minister for Minorities Péter Eckstein-Kovács called on the US to monitor minority affairs in Romania while on a visit to Washington last week. The appeal comes as fear of an Iliescu victory in the Romanian elections is increasing.

In other related news, Csaba Takács (RMDSZ) said last week that his party would collect signatures in Transylvania in order to put pressure on the Hungarian government to introduce citizenship without residential rights.


Hungarian POW IDed

Hungary's recently returned Second World War POW, the man previously thought to be András Tamás, has now been identified as András Toma, born in Újfehértó in 1925. After a DNA test confirmed Toma's half-brother and sister, National Psychiatry and Neurology Institute Director András Veér told reporters that "the world war has ended for András Toma and now he can start a quiet life within his family."

The Ministry of Defence is planning to promote Toma to a higher rank, as well as compensating him for the 55 years he was institutionalised. Veér said on 3 October that Toma, who never was discharged from the army, is due 55 years' of veterans' payments.

Paul Nemes, 6 October 2000

Moving on:


Magyar Távirati Iroda
hvg online
Inside Hungary
Central Europe Online
The Budapest Sun


Catherine Lovatt
Resurrecting 1989

Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Not a Shot
in the Dark

Pat FitzPatrick
The Last Domino?

Jan Čulík
A Hard Cell

Sam Vaknin
Losing an Ally

Artur Nura

Emilia Stere
Eminescu's Love Letters

Magali Perrault
Beyond the Velvet Revolution

Martin D Brown
Czech Historical Amnesia

Dejan Anastasijević (ed)
Out of Time

Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Hungarian Oil Scandal

Sam Vaknin
After the Rain

Press Reviews:
Oliver Craske
Comparing Revolutions

Andrea Mrozek
Violent Anniversary


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