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Vol 3, No 19
28 May 2001
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News from Hungary News from Hungary
All the important news
since 19 May 2001

Paul Nemes


Budapest NATO summit

State Secretary of the Secret Service István Simocskó said on 23 May that security is being tightened ahead of this week's NATO summit in Budapest. Interior Minister Sándor Pintér meanwhile stressed that the police was cooperating with security forces and the border guards, who, in fear of an influx of anti-globalisation protestors, have stepped up border controls.

View today's updated headlines from Hungary

Foreign Ministers from 50 countries are expected in Budapest for the summit. NATO General-Secretary Lord Robertson will be greeted by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and will also meet with Foreign Minister János Martonyi and Socialist Party (MSZP) Chairman László Kovács.

NATO spokesman Yves Brodeur said on Tuesday that the Balkans—top of the agenda—and the US missile defence system would be discussed during the summer.

Foreign Minister Martonyi meanwhile said that, in order to safeguard European security, NATO enlargement and greater transatlantic trust must be closely coupled, the Financial Times wrote on Tuesday. Martonyi also called for NATO enlargement to be carried out "as thoroughly and quickly" as possible, saying that the time before the Prague summit should be used to work out who can join when.


Budapest Olympic bid

Prime Minister Orbán on Monday told President of the International Olympic Committee Juan Antonio Samaranch that Hungary wishes to stage the 2012 Summer Games.

Speaking on Kossuth Radio on Wednesday, Orbán promised government involvement, saying that the Olympics would bring "tremendous economic, psychological and political advantages in addition to aiding sports."

Hungarian Olympic Committee President and the International Olympic Committee's Sport and Environment Commission Chairman Pál Schmitt on Tuesday said, "Hungary has appropriate skills enabling it to host even the Olympic Games. The IOC is already aware of the fact that Budapest is a genuine sports capital. To host the Olympics, however, it would have to construct at least three state-of-the-art sports halls and an appropriate swimming pool. The government's ambitious plan to construct soccer stadiums will in any case be implemented. The yachting and surfing competitions could be held on Lake Balaton. The Olympic village would be turned into a dwelling facility after the Olympic Games," MTI reports.

The minister of youth and sports, Tamás Deutsch, told reporters that 80 per cent of the facitities would be built even if Budapest were not a candidate city.


New Smallholders

On Thursday, 15 Smallholder (FKGP) MPs formed a new group. Defence Minister János Szabó is chairman of the new Democratic Federation of Independent Smallholder (FKDSZ), while Environment Minister Béla Turi-Kovács takes the post of deputy chairman. Turi-Kovács announced that the 15 did not plan to quit the FKGP, only to give it a more "civic form." However, they do not wish to be associated with FKGP leader József Torgyán.

In other related news, Torgyán last week demanded from Speaker of Parliament János Áder that he recognises the Budapest Municipal Court's ruling that the Smallholder faction that excluded him was illegal, Magyar Nemzet reported on 25 May.

The parliamentary leadership however says that the opinions of faction leader Péter Szentgyögyvölgyi have to be considered. According to him, Torgyán is not a member of the FKGP parliamentary group.


Partium university halls opened

At the opening of the Arany János halls of residence of the Christian University of the Partium in Oradea (Nagyvárad), Hungarian Education Minister Zoltán Pokorni stressed that "the acquisition of a European level of knowledge is one of the most important assets for a community, when thinking about its future."

Also attending the ceremony was Transylvanian Bishop László Tőkés, who called for a change in minority policy, saying that Hungarians in Romania should be "given the right to attain their ultimate aim of national autonomy, instead of granting them further concessions."

With a mention of the Status Law being difficult to avoid these days, Foreign Ministry State Secretary Zsolt Németh, speaking at the town's Varadium forum, said that the Hungarian state would be repaying an 80-year-old debt to the nation by passing the bill. He stressed that it was Hungary that had initiated talks on the proposal with neighbouring states. On 24 May, representatives of the Office for Hungarians Abroad held talks with Romanian Foreign Ministry officials in Budapest. The two sides agreed to continue consultations. Németh also said that it is no longer possible to speak about homogenous "nation-states" in Europe, but that "efforts had been made" to eliminate this "inconsistency."

"Our Romanian friends need not be afraid of Hungarian proposals, for these are not directed against them. Hungarian gain causes no loss to Romanians. We share our results as well as failures: improvements for Romania's Hungarian community will benefit Romania as a whole," he said.

Németh added that every detail of the Status Law would be worked out in cooperation with Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin as many additional proposals have been put forward.


And in other news...

  • Christian Democratic People's Party (KDNP) Chairman György Giczy resigned on 23 May. KDNP General-Secretary Tidavar Bartók, who made the announcement, said that Giczy resigned after the party's board the previous week decided to open up the party "towards moderate right-wing forces."
  • Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIÉP) leader István Csurka last week announced that his party would field candidates in all constituencies in the 2002 elections. Csurka described the MIÉP as the third largest party in Hungary, something confirmed by a Szonda Ipsos poll, which gives MIÉP six per cent support, after the MSZP (42 per cent) and FIDESZ-Hungarian Civic Party (39 per cent).
  • The Csángó have the right to their own language, Magyar Nemzet wrote last week. A Council of Europe (CoE) meeting in Istanbul last week considered a report on the Csángó in Moldavia by Finnish historian Tytti Isohookana-Asunmaa. The Catholic Csángó have demanded the use of their own language, instead of Romanian, in mass. The opinion of the CoE, who fully support Csángó demands, is that the Csángó is a Hungarian language group who have preserved their culture for hundreds of years on the eastern slopes of the Carpathians. There are currently no Hungarian-speaking priests in the Csángó region.
  • BMW has denied a report by Magyar Nemzet last week that the company would build a DEM one billion assembly plant in Tatabánya. A final decision on a new plant will not be taken until July, BMW said.

Paul Nemes, 25 May 2001


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