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Vol 2, No 38
6 November 2000
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Hungarian News News from

All the important news
since 28 October 2000

Paul Nemes


More Smallholder revelations

Just weeks after Smallholder (FKGP) MP Zoltán Székely was caught receiving a bribe, the Free Democrats (SZDSZ) claim to have discovered that Smallholder President József Torgyán breached his oath as MP by presenting "unrealistic" facts about his assets. Hence, the SZDSZ wants the Prime Minister to launch an investigation into Torgyán's assets, and have also called on the FKGP president to resign from his post.

View today's updated headlines from Hungary

Torgyán said in his defence that all data he had presented were true, and threatened to set in motion the "appropriate procedures" against those who openly claim that he had presented incorrect facts about his properties. He added that "a false report broadcast by TV2 was responsible for the slanderous statements."

On Thursday, Parliamentary Immunity Committee Chairman Tamás Isépy said he would not instigate any proceedings, as proposed by the SZDSZ. According to the law, an investigation based on a conflict of interest can be initiated if it is suspected that an MP's assets statement is not true. It is unclear how Torgyán funded the construction of a HUF (Hungarian forint) 100 million (USD 328,627) villa in Buda.

Székely, meanwhile, has hit back, or rather added to the list of those he accuses of corruption. On Tuesday, he told Magyar Hírlap that he could produce documents showing that both the environment and agriculture ministries, which are run by the FKGP, have caused "damage" to state funds in excess of HUF 1.5 billion (USD 4.9 million) and HUF 2.5 billion (USD 8.2 million), respectively.

Adding that the Smallholder Party was run by a "definite group of interests" and not by Torgyán, Székely said that he just had realised that what was done under the Socialist government—referring to stolen property—was only "peanuts" compared to what some Smallholder leaders had done.

In related news, Parliament's Public Procurement Committee Chairperson, a post previously held by Székely, Katalin Kiszely last week acquired documents that showed the MP has tried to obtain data about several sewerage projects without informing the committee. For more about the Székely affair see previous news reviews.

The FKGP leadership was expected to meet on Friday 3 November to consider the political repercussions of the recent scandals surrounding the party.


Hungary on Yugoslav UN membership

Hungary has welcomed Yugoslavia's re-entry into the United Nations. Foreign Ministry spokesman Gábor Horváth said that Hungary, as a co-author of the General Assembly draft resolution, has clearly expressed "its moral and political support for Yugoslavia's progress towards democracy and return to the international community."

Horváth also stated that Hungarian officials are preparing high-level meetings with Yugoslav counterparts and added that Yugoslav President Vojislav Koštunica should attend the Budapest meeting of the Central European Initiative on 24 and 25 November.

In the meantime, the president of the Government Office for Hungarian Minorities Abroad, Tibor Szabó, last week held talks with Alliance of Hungarians in Vojvodina (VMSZ) President József Kasza and other VMSZ officials in Novi Sad (Újvidék). Szabó noted that, after a period of survival, a period of re-building would begin for the Vojvodina Hungarians.


Polt says "Papa" arrest is in order

On 2 November, Prosecutor General Péter Polt discarded claims that the recent arrest or former police Lt Col István "Papa" Sándor had anything to do with preventing him from taking part in a hearing of the parliamentary committee investigating the oil scandal. Polt stated that an investigation into an "extremely serious crime" was under way, all of which would be seriously put at risk if details of the suspect were made public.

Polt said that Sándor could not enter Parliament to take part in the hearing as armed guards (to escort him) are not allowed in. He did, however, say that MPs could hold a "behind closed doors meeting" at the investigative office.


Black labour and border crossings

Hungary has stressed its desire to regulate the number of Romanian citizens working within its borders. On 1 November, State Secretary Csaba Őry said after having held talks with Péter Eckstein-Kovács, the Minority Affairs minister of Romania, that he was hopeful an employment agreement between the two countries could come into force before the end of the month.

Őry pointed out that illegal labour present was a great burden on the Hungarian economy. He said, the Government's answer would be to provide legal work in Hungary. According to estimates, between 30,000 and 100,000 Hungarians from Romania are working illegally in Hungary.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Wednesday that, after recently having opened two border crossings with his Romanian counterpart, Mugur Isarescu, another crossing at Vállaj in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County was under consideration. Currently, villagers have to make a 100 km detour when going to meet family and friends across the border.

On Hungarian-Romanian relations, Orbán said there were "major, unresolved questions lying ahead," and pointed to the return of church property in Romania as progressing at a much too slow pace and being far too limited.


The search for POWs goes on

András Veér, National Psychiatric Institute director, who last week returned home from Russia after having located what he called "many important documents," believes that András Toma, the POW found in Russia earlier this year, could be far from an isolated case. Veér is calling on the Hungarian Government to fund more expeditions and also believes the Russian national debt to Hungary could be used in the search for more POWs.

Meanwhile, the Centre for Russian Studies of Eötvös Lóránd University last week obtained a list of 198 Hungarians executed in and around Moscow during Stalin's reign. Most of those on the list—First World War POWs, Hungarian Red Army soldiers and Hungarians employed in the USSR—were accused of conspiring for Hungary.


And in other news...

  • A fire last week raged at a MOL (Hungarian Oil and Gas Company) refinery in Tiszaújváros. The fire was put out relatively quickly by 25 fire engines on Wednesday night. No one was injured in the blaze, but the fire is believed to have caused considerable damage to the refinery. An investigation into how the fire started is under way.
  • HVG reports that, after a four-day visit to Hungary, Council of Europe Roma experts have suggested that ethnic quotas be established as the diversity of Roma organisations is not mirrored in Roma authorities. Angéla Kóczé, deputy director of the European Roma Rights Centre, said the Committee would also advise the Cabinet that segregated education of Roma be put to an end.
  • The car carrying Transport Minister László Nógrádi, allegedly exceeding 130 Km/h, was last week involved in an accident which claimed the life of one man and critically injured a young woman. Nógrádi, who escaped with fractures to his right arm, was on his way to an official engagement when colliding with a Trabant. Police are investigating the collision which took place between Balatonboglár and Fonyód, near the Balaton. The investigation will also establish if Nógrádi's car was using its blue light and siren, and if this was the case, whether or not this was warranted.

Paul Nemes, 3 November 2000

Moving on:


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

Today's updated headlines from Hungary

Read CER's review of
last week's news from Hungary

Read CER's review of
last week's news from Hungary

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