Stalin, Haynau and Jellasics no longer honorary citizens of Budapest.

Nine people, amoung them Stalin, Haynau and Jellasics was taken off the list of honorary citizens of Budapest, after a unilateral descision was made at the Budapest City Coucil today. According to a statement published on the official website of the Budapest city council on  The rules for giving names to streets was also changed today, as streets may now be named after a person 5 years after that persons death, (as opposed to the current 25 years)

Museum of Fine Arts drawings exhibition to open in Jerusalem

Budapest, March 31 (MTI) – An exhibition of drawings from the Esterhazy collection of the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts will open in Jerusalem’s Israel Museum on Friday.

Entitled “The Prince and the Paper. Masterworks from the Esterhazy Collection”, the display will feature drawings by Raphael, Veronese, Annibale Carracci, Piranesi, Durer, Hans Baldung Grien, Lucas Cranach, Lucas van Leyden, Rembrandt and Poussin.

The Hungarian state purchased the unique collection of 600 paintings, 3,500 drawings and 51,000 prints from the princely family back in 1871, which became later the biggest international attraction of the Museum of Fine Arts.

The Jerusalem event is the fifth in a series of major displays over the past year and a half, attracting over one million museum-goers in Kyoto, Tokyo, the Pushkin Museum of Moscow, and the Royal Academy of London.

Israel Museum presented a collection of its masterpieces to the Hungarian public at an exhibition entitled “The Heritage of the Holy Land” in the summer of 2008.

The Jerusalem exhibition will be open until July 1.


Hungary has EUR 366m c/a surplus, EUR 875m external financing capacity in Q4 – 1st reading

Budapest, March 31, 2010 (MTI-ECONEWS) – Hungary had a current account surplus of EUR 366m and net external financing capacity — a positive combined balance of the current account and the capital account — of EUR 875m in Q4 2010, unadjusted figures published by the National Bank of Hungary (NBH) on Thursday show.

Both the current account surplus and external financing capacity narrowed from the downward revised Q3 figures but increased sharply from a year earlier.

Calculated as a sum of the four quarters, the country had a EUR 2.031bn c/a surplus in 2010, up sharply from EUR 332m in 2009. The country’s net external financing capacity more than doubled to EUR 3.821bn from EUR 1.442bn in 2009, the first reading shows.

The NBH revised the 2009 external financing capacity up from EUR 753m as it revised an earlier reported EUR 429m c/a deficit for 2009 into a EUR 332m while reducing the 2009 surplus on the capital account by EUR 73m to EUR 1.109bn as part of the current revision.

After adjusting for seasonal effects, Hungary’s external financing capacity was EUR 1.101bn or 4.1pc of GDP in Q4, up from EUR 921m in Q3 last year and up from EUR 616m a year earlier.

The seasonally adjusted current account surplus was EUR 534m in the fourth quarter of 2010, up from an upward revised EUR 506m in Q3, but down from EUR 613m in the first quarter and from EUR 549m in the second quarter of last year.

Hungary’s external financing position as well as its c/a balance has been in surplus since Q2 2009, the revised figures show.

Seasonally adjusted net inflow of transfers from the European Union, including current and capital transfers, rose to EUR 934m in Q4 — up EUR 103m from Q3 and their highest level since Hungary’s EU accession in 2004 –, and were responsible for the bulk but not all of the quarter’s net external financing capacity.

The surplus on trade of goods and services continued to exceed the shortfall on income transfers in Q4 2010, as has been the case since Q2 2009. The seasonally adjusted revenues from the export of goods has been exceeding that of the previous quarter from the beginning of 2009, and the adjusted import expenditure has been up from the previous quarter since Q2 2009.

Hungary shifted from a net external financing requirement into a financing ability in Q2 2009 as the 2008 crisis resulted in a widening surplus on trade and services, profits of foreign-owned companies shrank and net transfers from the EU increased.

Seasonally adjusted exports in Q4, at EUR 22.213bn, rose to their highest value since Q2 2008, and adjusted imports rose to EUR 20.1bn, the highest since Q4 2008. The adjusted trade surplus widened EUR 158m to EUR 1.243bn in Q4 2010.

The adjusted surplus on tourism was little changed from the previous quarters at EUR 466m, with both tourism spending and revenues practically unchanged from Q3.

The EUR 158m seasonally adjusted surplus of services excluding tourism was also practically flat with hardly changed revenues EUR 2.598bn and spending of EUR 2.445bn in Q4. Services excluding tourism has been in surplus every quarter since Q2 2009.

A seasonally adjusted deficit on income flows rose further, to EUR 1.405bn, increasing steadily since Q1 last year, the NBH said noting that data on reinvested income remain an estimate until September 2011.

Unadjusted accrual-based figures show that Hungary received EUR 258m current transfers from the EU in Q4, bringing the 2010 total to EUR 1.208bn. Capital transfers from the EU totalled EUR 849m in Q4 and EUR 2.222bn last year.


Govt parties to submit over 40 amendment proposals to the constitution

Parliamentary groups of the Fidesz-Christian Democrat alliance, who are governing,  are planning to submit more than forty amendments to the draft constitution,  said on monday Janos Lazar, the Fidesz group leader, according to

Four of the proposals respond to the opinions of the majority of Hungarians polled by the government, he said.

Accordingly, a passage in the draft law on granting extra votes to parents in an election will be dropped, he said.

But the option of allowing judges to hand down real life sentences will be included.

Further, a parliamentary committee will have the power require people to attend hearings.

The fourth grants protection to indigenous species in the Carpathian Basin.

Additionally, Lazar said the party alliance would propose increasing the number of Constitutional Court judges from 11 to 15 and to dismantle curbs on its powers of jurisdiction over the public finances only if the public debt drops to below 50 percent of gross domestic product.

Independent lawmaker Katalin Szili’s proposal that constitution court judges should be at least 45 years old and ordinary judges 30 will also be tabled, he said.

Further, the forint will be stated as the national currency in the basic law.

Reducing the voting age from 18 to 16 will not be tabled, he also said.

Lazar said he would propose not using the expression “comitatus” (varmegye) instead of county in the new constitution because it carried “some bad historic connotations”.

At the proposal of several green organisations, the right to a healthy environment should also be included in the new law, Lazar said.

Hungarian nation’s unification should continue through constitution, says Tokes

Budapest, March 25 (MTI) – The unification process of the Hungarian nation should continue through the new constitution, Hungarian MEP of Romania, Laszlo Tokes said after his talks with Hungarian President Pal Schmitt in Budapest on Friday.

He said it was important that Hungary’s new supreme law would include in its main chapters a section stipulating that there is one Hungarian nation as a whole and the Hungarian state bears responsibility towards ethnic Hungarians in neighbouring countries,

In this framework, ethnic Hungarians beyond the borders should be given the right to vote in Hungary, said Tokes, adding that Schmitt had expressed agreement with this view.

Tokes said that as president of the Council of Autonomy for Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin (KMAT) he would initiate launching the Hungarian version of UNESCO’s World Heritage Programme, to be dubbed Hungarian National Heritage Programme.


EU Presidency – Ministers sign letter on intent on Mura-Drava-Danube biosphere reserve

Budapest, March 25 (MTI) – Hungarian Minister for Rural Development Sandor Fazekas and his Austrian, Slovenian, Croatian and Serbian counterparts on Friday signed a letter of intent to set up the Mura-Drava-Danube Cross-border Biosphere Reserve.

Before the signing event, Fazekas said this would be the first cross-border biosphere reserve in the region.

Director of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Danube-Carpathian Programme, Andreas Beckman, said this would be the largest biosphere reserve and the first in the world to be created jointly by five countries.

The five participating countries agreed to set up a 15-member coordination body that will control the steps required to gain the biosphere reserve status.

The reserve will cover a large and diverse area from the Alps to central Hungary between the rivers Danube and Tisza, Fazekas said. It will stretch from the Julian Alps in Slovenia to Kopacki Rit in Eastern Croatia, along the Mura and Drava valleys and the confluence of the Drava and Danube, he added.

Fazekas said after Friday’s informal meeting of EU environment ministers in Godollo that a strategy on the protection of European waters is planned to be prepared next year. The Hungarian presidency would like to get council recommendations approved in June, he added.

“Water is national heritage and the most important natural resource in the 21st century,” Fazekas said.


State sec to propose writing forint into constitution

Budapest, March 25, 2011 (MTI-ECONEWS) – Mihaly Varga, Prime Minister’s Office state secretary, on Friday said he would propose inserting a clause into Hungary’s new constitution making the forint the official currency of the country.

Budapest, March 25, 2011 (MTI-ECONEWS) – Mihaly Varga, Prime Minister’s Office state secretary, on Friday said he would propose inserting a clause into Hungary’s new constitution making the forint the official currency of the country.

“If Hungary adopts the euro, then the text of the constitution will have to be changed,” Mr Varga said.

Changing the constitution requires the votes of two-thirds of MPs.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said earlier that Hungary’s eurzone entry is “unimaginable” before 2020.


State secretary discusses church issues in Romania

Bucharest, March 25 (MTI) – Laszlo Szaszfalvi, Hungary’s state secretary in charge of church issues and ethnic minorities, discussed topics including restitution for Hungarian churches in Romania, the situation of the Orthodox Church, as well as using the mother tongue in services for Csango Hungarians, during talks in Bucharest.

Szaszfalvi told MTI on Friday that his Romania visit was aimed at continuing the dialogue between Hungary and the Orthodox Church, as well as to strengthen the role of traditional Hungarian churches in Romanian society and in the preservation of cohesion between the Hungarian community.

During talks with Orthodox Patriarch Daniel, Szaszfalvi urged that the restitution process involving Hungarian churches in Romania should be accelerated. He also told the patriarch that Hungary was mulling an agreement with the Orthodox Church under which its organisations in Hungary would receive the same subsidies as other traditional churches in the country.

At a meeting with Apostolic Nuncio Francisco-Javier Lozano and Roman Catholic Archbishop Ioan Robu, Szaszfalvi reviewed issues around the minority Hungarian churches, including the possibility of providing services to Csango Hungarians in Moldavia in their mother tongue. The nuncio voiced full support to that possibility, while the archbishop suggested that local church authorities should be approached with a request, Szaszfalvi said.


Eight economists call on govt to join Euro Plus Pact

Budapest, March 25 (MTI) – Eight senior economists called on the Hungarian government to join the euro zone competitiveness pact, dubbed as Euro Plus Pact, in a statement published on Friday.

“As responsible Hungarian economists, we call on Viktor Orban’s government to revise its position and approve the majority position in the EU summit,” the petitioners, including former Socialist finance minister Laszlo Bekesi and liberal economy minister Istvan Csillag, said.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced earlier this week that Hungary would not be going to join the euro zone competitiveness pact for the moment because the country wanted to retain its independence on tax matters.

The economists argued that the pact envisages uniform rules merely for calculating the tax base but does not rule out competition between the degrees of tax rates, and does not prevent Hungary from attracting foreign investment with lower tax rates. By adopting the pact, Hungary “would not give up its independence in tax matters”, they said.

“After a lost decade, we should not voluntarily get off the train of progress that would take us to the Hungarian euro”, the petitioners said.

The pact forms part of the package designed to increase financial stability in the euro zone, make the EU more competitive and step up economic coordination. It was approved last night by 17 euro zone member states and six non-euro zone countries. Four EU members – Hungary, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Denmark – decided not the sign it.


AI calls for protection of Roma ahead of murder trial

Budapest, March 25 (MTI) – The forthcoming trial of the suspects of the multiple Roma murders should carry a clear message to the public that the Roma communities should be protected against all racially motivated violent assaults and harassment, Amnesty International told MTI in a statement on Friday.

The trial of the four defendants accused of having killed six Roma people, including a five-year-old child, and seriously wounding five others, in Hungarian villages between July 2008 and August 2009 started at the Pest County Court on Friday amidst keen media interest and tight security in Budapest.

The series of attacks traumatised the Roma communities and kept them in permanent fear, AI said.

The human rights organisations expressed criticism that Hungarian authorities still lack appropriate instruments for investigating racially motivated crime.

Referring to recent incidents at the village of Gyongyospata in northern Hungary, AI expressed concern that police failed to make every possible step to prevent the harassment of the local Roma population.

A civil group calling itself the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future has been patrolling the village since early March citing an increase in crime among the local Roma.

On March 6 the radical nationalist Jobbik party staged a demonstration in the village in support of the action.