Hungary’s Martonyi hails outcome of NATO summit

Berlin, April 15 (MTI) – The NATO ministerial session held in Berlin has confirmed the alliance’s commitment to resolving the Libyan crisis, Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi told MTI on Friday.

Assessing the two-day session, Martonyi noted that NATO had set concrete conditions for a settlement and decided to continue military operations.

“The alliance demonstrated unity and resoluteness,” he said.

He called talks on NATO-EU security cooperation and the NATO-Russia Council session a success. Martonyi noted that his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov had not repeated Moscow’ previous claims that NATO had gone beyond the mandate of UN Security Council resolution 1973 with its operations in Libya.

Martonyi said NATO and Russia still agreed they have plenty of common threats and challenges to face, referring particularly to Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism.

He added, however, that there remained some points of dissent, including European missile defence and the agreement on conventional arms reductions.

source: mti

Budapest to host Division I Ice Hockey World Championship next week

Budapest, April 15 (MTI) – This year’s Division I Ice Hockey World Championship will run in Budapest’s Papp Laszlo Sports Arena with five teams from April 17 to 23

The five nations competing to win the tournament and thus qualify for the world elite of 16 teams will be Hungary, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Netherlands and Spain.

The sixth team of the field, Japan, was forced to withdraw due to the recent disasters in their country.

Hungary’s national manager Ted Sator, a US coach with long-standing NHL experience, said the Hungarian team had set the aim of qualifying for the elite league with the support of its home fans.

On the sidelines of the championship, Hungarian and NHL ice hockey memorabilia will be put on display. International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) President Rene Fasel, who will open the exhibition on April 16, is scheduled to meet President Pal Schmitt on Monday.

source: mti.hu

Hungary govt plans public sector wage, central budget spending freeze in 2012

Budapest, April 15, 2011 (MTI-ECONEWS) – Hungary’s government will freeze public sector wages and central budget spending on goods and services in 2012, the country’s updated convergence programme published on Friday shows.

An outline of the main objectives of the 2012 budget in the updated programme shows spending on goods and services by local governments will be allowed to rise at the estimated rate of inflation.

Public sector wages will be frozen except for employees with low salaries, who will receive compensation for tax changes introduced at the start of 2010. (Changes to the tax system benefitted most Hungarians but left many low-earners worse off. -ed.)

The budget aims to cut price subsidies, including a significant cut of drug subsidies, reduce spending on public transport by boosting efficiency, and restructure administration at the local level to achieve economy of scale.

Pensions will keep their real value supported by indexation rules, according to the updated programme.

Higher excise tax on tobacco products and a transformed product fee are expected to generate additional revenue.

The convergence programme assumes a nearly one percentage point-of-GDP cut in current operating expenditures of the public sector over 2011, while revenue from tax and contributions will drop “only a negligible extent”.

source: mti.hu

Hungary submits updated Convergence Programme to Brussels

(MTI-ECONEWS) – Hungary submitted its updated Convergence Programme to the European Commission on Friday, the government said.

The programme, previously updated in January 2010, shows Hungary’s general government deficit is set to fall to 1.9pc of GDP in 2014, helped by measures in a structural reform programme announced earlier. The updated programme shows Hungary’s gross state debt falling to 65pc of GDP in 2015.

Hungary had a general government deficit of 4.3pc of GDP in 2010 and its state debt reached 80.2pc of GDP at the end of the year.

The updated programme shows a general government surplus of 2pc of GDP in 2011, but a deficit of 2.94pc if cleared of the one-off effect of the transfer of private pension fund assets. It shows deficits of 2.5pc in 2012, 2.2pc in 2013, 1.9pc in 2014 and 1.5pc in 2015. The targets are the same as those in Hungary’s Structural Reform Programme, based on the Szell Kalman Plan unveiled on March 1.

The structural balance, excluding one-off items and cyclical effects, shows the deficit rising to 4pc of GDP in 2010 and 4.7pc in 2011, before narrowing to 2.6pc in 2012 and 1.7pc in 2013 as one-off items are phased out.

source: mti.hu

Int’l conference marks Eichmann trial anniversary

Budapest, April 15 (MTI) – A conference with international and Hungarian experts was organised in Budapest to mark the 50th anniversary of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann’s trial on Friday.

Gabriel Bach, retired judge of the Israeli Supreme Court and deputy prosecutor of the trial that began in Jerusalem on April 11 in 1961, described details of the trial and his own perceptions had been of Eichmann. Eichmann was one of the chief organisers of the deportation of Jews, including Hungarian Jews, to Nazi death camps during WWII.

Bach said that Eichmann had indeed taken up the whole issue as his own, and considered it his own “war.”

“Eichmann seriously believed in it [..]. I am confident in stating that he had not regretted anything at all,” the one-time deputy prosecutor said.

He referred to an interview in which Eichmann told a Dutch Nazi supporting journalist in 1956 about how seeing the wagons packed with Jews heading for the death camps had filled him with awe and regretted only that he had not been much tougher in the execution of his plans.

Benny Sharon, deputy mission head of the Israeli Embassy in Budapest, said the trial was a turning point in the post-Holocaust period and helped a better understanding of its horrors as well as coping with them.

Andras Geiger, president of the anti-racism and minority rights Mensch Foundation, called it important for young people to learn events that had led to the Holocaust and what exactly had taken place.

The conference, co-organised by the Budapest Central European University, the ELTE University, the Mensch Foundation and the Open Society Archives was attended by around hundred participants, including Holocaust survivors.

Hungary marks Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 16 which is the day when in 1944 the incarceration of Jews into ghettos began in Transcarpathia (now western Ukraine). This was followed by deportations of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews into concentration camps in Austria, Germany and Poland.

source: mti.hu

Teddy bear toss at the Ice Hockey World Championship

Encouraged by previous years’ success, Telenor and the Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation are organizing a teddy bear toss again this year. The event will take place at the match between Hungary and Spain during the Division I Ice Hockey World Championship at Papp László Budapest Sports Arena on 22 April, Telenor writes in a press release.

On the fourth day of the Ice Hockey World Championship, not only Hungarian players but also teddy bears will be in the focus of attention. Ice hockey fans will be invited to toss teddy bears on the ice after the Hungarian team scores its first goal.

“The first Hungarian teddy bear toss was organized by the team Miskolci Jegesmedvék three years ago. The initiative was very successful with players and fans collecting a huge number of soft toys for needy children. Since 2009, we and Telenor have been organizing the charity programme every year. I hope that the Hungarian team will win the world championship match against Spain and we’ll collect a huge pile of toys for children”, said Csaba Kovács, Vice President of the Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation.

The initiative called teddy bear toss comes from North America. As the story goes, the ice was covered with teddy bears in Kitchener, Canada in the mid-eighties for the first time to appeal to children in the Christmas season. Later, the initiative grew popular in other parts of Canada and the United States. Now bears are tossed at nearly every minor and junior hockey league across the world. Teams with a large number of fans collect as many as 10,000 to 15,000 teddy bears per game. The world record is held by the fans of Calgary Hitmen who tossed as many as 26,919 teddy bears on the ice on 2 December 2007.

“This year’s teddy bear toss has been scheduled for an exciting match of the Division I Ice Hockey World Championship, a prestigious event also in international terms. It will be a touching moment to see the ice covered with thousands of teddy bears at the fully packed Sports Arena. The charity action of Hungarian ice hockey fans will be taken to millions of people through the television broadcast”, said Orsolya Nyilas, Telenor’s Acting Head of PR.

Fans donate an increasing number of soft toys to sick and needy the children in the teddy bear toss every year. At the first charity event in 2009, the audience tossed 4,352 toys on the ice, while this number increased to 4,451 last year. The teddy bears collected at the World Championship will be delivered to several institutions including Bethesda Children’s Hospital, Esze Tamás Children’s Home, and the Children’s Home of the Municipality of Budapest in Templom utca.

This year again, the soft toys will be presented to children by the members of the Hungarian national ice hockey team.