Budapost https://www. A Hungarian Press Review Mon, 27 Jan 2020 06:46:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 Debate over compensation for inmates and Roma rolls on https://www./2020/01/debate-over-compensation-for-inmates-and-roma-rolls-on/ Sun, 26 Jan 2020 23:01:19 +0000 https://www./?p=11156 Weeklies and weekend editions of dailies right across the political spectrum discuss the implications of the government’s plans to suspend payment of compensation for  inmates who have won court cases for overcrowding and Roma children taught in segregated classrooms. Each side accuses the other of inciting hatred and threatening the constitutional order.

Magyar Demokrata editor-in-chief András Bencsik, commenting on the dispute over compensation for segregated Roma children (see BudaPost January 13 and January 20) and prison inmates who won compensation in court for sub standard detention conditions, (see BudaPost January 21) accuses opposition politicians and ‘the Soros network’ of using courts to get hold of public money. The pro-government columnist suspects that cities taken over by the opposition in the local elections are also syphoning off money in corrupt ways. All in all, Bencsik claims that the only concern of both the opposition and their intellectual hinterland is to get rich.

On Látószög blog, Judit B. Varga  that the segregation of Roma children serves their interests as well. The conservative historian believes that separate classrooms help both non-Roma and Roma to overcome their mutual stereotypes and also to offer targeted education for disadvantaged Roma children – thus segregation should be seen as an instance of affirmative action, she believes. Varga adds that de facto segregated education programs designed for poor Roma children, run by churches, have been highly successful in Hungary.

Magyar Nemzet’s József Horváth suggests that the opposition and multinational companies are using the Roma and the inmates to accuse the government of discrimination. The pro-government pundit reckons that after failing to weaken the government by accusing it of mistreating migrants, human rights NGOs now want to incite ethnic hatred. Their action, Horváth writes, is ‘an open attack on the Hungarian constitutional order’.

In its weekly first page editorial, Magyar Narancs writes that Prime Minister Orbán is using inmates and the Roma to mobilize his supporters with fear-mongering rhetoric, because of the recent lull in the migration crisis. The liberal weekly finds the claim that ‘the Soros network’ is using prison conditions and ethnic segregation in schools for its own financial advantage, ‘a barefaced conspiracy theory’. In a passing remark, Magyar Narancs claims that PM Orbán’s words against the compensation of segregated Roma were borrowed from ‘Neo-Nazi’ far-right politicians.

Heti Világgazdaság’s Sándor Révész interprets the Prime Minister’s plans to suspend compensation payments as a demonstration that the Prime Minister has placed himself above the law. The liberal pundit claims that the government has actually rebelled against the rule of law. Révész adds that the government has announced a de facto civil disobedience movement as it cannot simply change laws that are against its taste as long as Hungary is in the EU.

On 444.hu, Péter Magyari  that the compensation of prisoners was made possible by a law that the government enacted in 2016. The liberal columnist recalls that the government introduced the new law on the compensation of prison inmates kept in poor conditions to pre-empt European court procedures against it.

Népszava’s Róbert Friss also  that Prime Minister Orbán wants to put himself above the law by ignoring court rulings. The left-wing commentator describes the government’s move as ‘the last nail in the coffin of the rule of law’. He accuses PM Orbán of ignoring the institutional order of the Hungarian state. Friss interprets what happened as proof that the governing party fears that it may soon be ousted from power.

On Index, Attila Rovó  that the Prime Minister is looking for new enemies to use to keep his voting base together. The government and its media, the liberal analyst  writes, have replaced migrants with inmates and the Roma, but kept the ‘Soros network’ as a scapegoat. Rovó believes that this strategy may actually pay off, as both the Roma and prison inmates are highly unpopular, and therefore the opposition has nothing to gain from defending them.

Environmentalism seen as a threat to European competitiveness https://www./2020/01/environmentalism-seen-as-a-threat-to-european-competitiveness/ Fri, 24 Jan 2020 23:02:00 +0000 https://www./?p=11154 Commenting on events at the Davos World Economic Forum, a pro-government analyst thinks that what he calls ‘the advance of green ideology’ is jeopardizing Europe’s competitiveness and the welfare of Europeans.

Commenting on the speeches by US President Trump and Greta Thunberg at Davos on the Mozgástér blog, Zoltán Kiszely  that Europe will be worse off if it embraces the radical environmentalist ideas advocated, among others, by Greta Thunberg. The conservative political scientist recalls that US President Trump’s free trade ideology is very popular in the US, while in Europe, green ideas are gathering steam. As a result, European companies are becoming reluctant to engage in business that may become subject to environmental criticism, Kiszely contends. As the US and other major players in the world economy, including China, broker free trade deals, European companies are curtailed by environmental considerations, he continues. Kiszely fears that the popularity of green ideas will therefore take a toll on Europe’s competitiveness, and will thus harm the well-being of Europeans.

Budapest Mayor Karácsony’s first 100 days https://www./2020/01/budapest-mayor-karacsonys-first-100-days/ Thu, 23 Jan 2020 23:02:46 +0000 https://www./?p=11152 A liberal and a pro-government commentator assess Budapest Mayor Karácsony’s performance during his first one hundred days in office.

Magyar Nemzet’s Dávid Megyeri  that Budapest Mayor Karácsony’s first one hundred days in office have been an utter failure. The pro-government columnist contends that Mayor Karácsony has begun purges of those he finds uncongenial and has sacked leading experts. Megyeri suspects that his plans to ban old diesel cars from Budapest and offer restriction free parking for local residents may alienate voters. Megyeri suggests that Mr Karácsony’s ultimate aim is not to make Budapest a better place, but to use his position to help the opposition defeat Fidesz in the 2022 Parliamentary election.

On Index, Gábor Tenczer  that Mayor Karácsony has already realized 6 out of his 23 major campaign promises. The liberal pundit recalls that public transportation has been made free for the unemployed, and football stadium construction has been made conditional on the improvement of hospitals, major museum construction has been canceled, a climate emergency has been announced and other green projects have also been launched.

12th district mayor praised for confronting family history https://www./2020/01/12th-district-mayor-praised-for-confronting-family-history/ Wed, 22 Jan 2020 23:01:03 +0000 https://www./?p=11150 A rabbi welcomes Budapest 12th district mayor Zoltán Pokorni’s courage in facing up to his family history and publicly discussing his grandfather’s involvement in the murder of Jews in World War Two.

Zoltán Pokorni, former Fidesz President and Mayor of the 12th district in Budapest learned recently that his grandfather participated in the murder of Jews in 1944. Struggling to hold back his tears at a public commemoration of the victims, Mayor Pokorni spoke about the crimes of his grandfather. He underscored that both the perpetrators and the victims were Hungarians, and therefore the murder of Hungarian Jews should be considered as part of Hungary’s national history. He noted that those who participated in the murder of Jews cannot be acquitted by blaming the horrors on the invasion of the country by Nazi Germany. Zoltán Pokorni also ordered the removal of his grandfather’s name from a local memorial commemorating the victims of World War Two.

On Index, Rabbi Zoltán Radnóti  the district mayor for confessing his grandfather’s involvement in the murder of Budapest Jews in Nazi occupied Hungary. Radnóti agrees with Pokorni that the Hungarian Holocaust is part of the national history. He welcomes Pokorni’s effort to face his family history and acknowledge his grandfather’s involvement in horrific crimes. Radnóti thinks that facing the past and underscoring the common Hungarian identity of victims and perpetrators facilitates reconciliation and strengthens national solidarity.

Fidesz urged to quit EPP https://www./2020/01/fidesz-urged-to-quit-epp/ Tue, 21 Jan 2020 23:01:08 +0000 https://www./?p=11146 A conservative pundit believes that the European People’s Party has turned to the left, and calls on the governing party to quit the EPP and found a new political group in the European Parliament.

In his Mandiner comment on the resolution passed by the European Parliament on Poland and Hungary (see  Fidesz to quit the European People’s Party. Trombitás recalls that nearly two-thirds of EPP MEPs voted in favor of the motion against Hungary. After that vote, he argues, Fidesz has no reason to remain a member of the EPP. (The EPP Political Assembly will discuss a report by the “three wise men” mandated to evaluate Fidesz policies early next month.) Trombitás admits that he himself used to believe that Fidesz can best stand up for its interests if it stays in the EPP (see BudaPost March 9, 2019). By now, however, the EPP ‘has fallen prey to the Left,’ Trombitás writes. He goes on to suggest that rather than joining either the Identity and Democracy group or the European Conservatives and Reformists groups, Fidesz should launch a new European Parliamentary faction to unite right-wing MEPs who share its vision.

Government suspends payment of compensation to inmates https://www./2020/01/government-suspends-payment-of-compensation-to-inmates/ Mon, 20 Jan 2020 23:01:37 +0000 https://www./?p=11143 A liberal commentator thinks that the government’s decision to suspend the payment of compensation to inmates further weakens the rule of law. A pro-government columnist welcomes the decision, and finds it fully in-line with the opinion of most Hungarians.

The government decided to suspend the payment of compensation to prison inmates who complained about sub-standard detention conditions. A series of  compensation sums were decided by the courts according to a law based on a 2015 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) that found Hungarian prisons overcrowded and incarceration conditions unacceptable. Pál Völner, State Secretary at the Ministry of Justice criticized the Strasbourg Court for setting standards ‘above the living conditions of many honest Hungarian citizens’ and said the suspension will be valid until Parliament passes a new law under which any compensation sums granted must be used firstly to pay compensation to the victims of the crimes committed by the plaintiffs, then to pay the inmates’ debts towards the state and public utility companies.

On Index, János Halász  the government decision to suspend compensation to inmates held in improper conditions, another huge blow to the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. The liberal commentator interprets the government’s decision as an open challenge to the law and court verdicts. Halász thinks that the government’s ‘demagogic’ decision may nonetheless pay off politically, as it may mobilize voters by creating another enemy that they can hate.

Magyar Hírlap’s Pál Dippold, on the other hand,  the decision. The pro-government columnist contends that the suspension of compensation to inmates is in-line with the sense of justice of most Hungarians. Dippold believes that the majority of Hungarians are outraged by the use by what he calls ‘left-wing lawyers and criminals’ of European human rights law, to pocket huge amounts of money. Dippold agrees with the Prime Minister that legal procedures against prison conditions amount to an abuse of rights, and likens the procedures to corruption, as they are intended to syphon off public money for personal benefit.

Weeklies on the Roma school segregation verdict https://www./2020/01/weeklies-on-the-roma-school-segregation-verdict/ Sun, 19 Jan 2020 23:01:41 +0000 https://www./?p=11139 Left-liberal weeklies are outraged by the Prime Minister’s opinion that ‘something should be done’ about the court sentence which compels the Gyöngyöspata Council to pay compensation to Roma families whose children were segregated at school from 2004 to 2012. Conservative authors suggest that the verdict is doing more harm than good.

In its regular weekly editorial Magyar Narancs dismisses the Prime Minister’s statement according to which the verdict offends the sense of justice of the local population. The editors remark that the court ruling dates back to September last year, when it did not provoke any unfavourable reactions from the government side. Therefore the liberal weekly characterises the Prime Minister’s statement as part of a premeditated political manoeuvre, aimed at recruiting anti-Roma voters left behind by Jobbik’s shift towards the centre over the past five years. In fact, it was Jobbik and its paramilitary allies that stirred up ethnic animosity at Gyöngyöspata in 2011 (see BudaPost, August 4, 2011). Since the court case is under revision by the Kúria (the Supreme Court), Magyar Narancs also accuses the Prime Minister of interfering with judicial procedures in a case pending a final verdict.

In his Élet és Irodalom front-page editorial, István Váncsa warns that using the Roma issue in partisan propaganda may seriously backfire, because the proportion of Roma within the population is increasing and one day, they will make up the majority in Hungary. Increasing the tension between Gypsies and non-Gypsies, the liberal author argues, may prove suicidal in future. He doesn’t accuse the government of being responsible alone in halting the integration of Hungary’s Roma into the majority society. On the contrary, laudable reforms which began in the 18th century by Austrian emperors were foiled in the early 1800s. Meanwhile, the ‘Roma problem’ in other countries of the region, including the Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Bulgaria is sometimes even worse than in Hungary, with no improvement in sight.

In Hetek, Sándor Szilágyi recalls that at the time when the segregation case started at Gyöngyöspata, Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány launched a program called the Decade of Roma Integration in which hundreds of billions of Forints were spent with no tangible results achieved. Nor did efforts to impose integrated education bring any positive results, he writes, at least in schools with a high percentage of underprivileged Roma children. Such efforts only ended up increasing tensions within the schools and the community as a whole, he suggests. Watchdog organisations condemn and sue schools which segregate Roma children, but they never protest against ethnic minority schools set up by Roma organisations, he remarks, in an aside. Szilágyi suggests that segregation is not the cause but the outcome of the underprivileged position of Roma families. Therefore, putting it into the crosshairs will not promote either the integration of the Roma or their position in the housing or labour markets, he concludes.

In his report from Gyöngyöspata itself, Mandiner’s István Joó quotes the non-Gypsy chairman of the parent organisation within the local school who tells him that pupils were not segregated on racial lines. At least there were non-Gypsies in the predominantly Gypsy classes, while the non-Gypsy classes also included Gypsy children. As for the complaint that Gypsy kids were not allowed to attend swimming classes, he said nobody was rejected on racial grounds. The problem was that bathing suits were required to attend the swimming pool. Joó discovered that in this settlement with 300 Roma out of a total population of just under 400, nearly 90% of the pupils at the local school are Roma. The reason is that an increasing number of non-Roma parents have taken their children to schools in other locations to spare them the conflicts within and around the Gyöngyöspata school.

EP adopts resolution condemning Poland and Hungary https://www./2020/01/ep-adopts-resolution-condemning-poland-and-hungary/ Fri, 17 Jan 2020 23:41:25 +0000 https://www./?p=11137

In the very first reactions to the resolution passed by the EP in Strasbourg on Thursday, two opposition outlets believe its implications for both Hungary and Fidesz will be limited.

On Thursday, the European Parliament in Strasbourg approved a resolution expressing dissatisfaction with the slow way rule of law procedures against Poland and Hungary are handled by the European Council. They urged the Council to hold regular meetings and to allow representatives of the EP to assist at hearings and debates about Hungary (since the Article 7 procedure in Hungary’s case was launched by the EU 18 months ago). The resolution also urges the EU to make financial transfers to member countries conditional on compliance with key European values. The motion passed with over two thirds of votes in favour, including 63 per cent of votes by People’s Party MEPs. PM Orbán said Fidesz was just ‘a centimetre away’ from leaving the EPP at that point, but ‘no’ votes by Spanish, Italian and French EPP members convinced him that Fidesz is not being betrayed by the EPP as such.

In her Népszava report from Brussels, Katalin Halmai that although the resolution was supported by a majority of EPP members, Fidesz’s expulsion from the EPP cannot be taken for granted. On the one hand, the resolution, rather that expressing an opinion about rule of law infringements in Hungary or Poland, reprimands the European Council which has shown no energy to bring the two Article 7 procedures forward so far. Even more importantly, she writes, the result might have been different if it was only about Hungary. Poland’s governing PiS party doesn’t belong to the EPP and is widely disliked within the group.

On Azonnali, Bea Bakó and Martin Bukovics that the resolution will have no practical consequences whatsoever. They believe the Hungarian government do deserve being sanctioned, but that will hardly happen. In fact EU rules, they explain, have been devised in a way to avoid radical and swift measures. The protracted procedures the EP resolution complains about are part of the DNA of the European Union. In fact, Bakó and Bukovics remark, any sanctions would ultimately require a unanimous vote within the Council, where Hungary and Poland would veto any resolution against one another.



Government accused of excluding Budapest from EU funds https://www./2020/01/government-accused-of-excluding-budapest-from-eu-funds/ Thu, 16 Jan 2020 23:01:12 +0000 https://www./?p=11135 The nationwide left-wing daily stands by its claim that the government has submitted to the European Union a financial scheme in which the Hungarian capital is left out of a list of target areas for European development funds.

Based on a Népszava , the opposition media has  the government of planning  to ‘bleed Budapest dry’ after its electorate chose a left-liberal Mayor and an opposition majority city council in October. The pro-government media vehemently  that claim as ‘fake news’.

In an unsigned editorial, Népszava  its Monday story in which it described an unpublished government scheme for the regions that would benefit from European funds as a plan to leave Budapest without such development sources for the coming seven year period. The editors debunk reactions by the pro-government media which accuse the left-wing daily of spreading fake news. In the same issue, Népszava also  an interview with the government commissioner in charge of major building projects in the capital, who says the document referred to by the daily to substantiate its claim must be an unsigned draft. The one submitted to Brussels, he claims, treats Budapest among the government’s priority candidates for EU funds.

European Parliament debates over Hungary and Poland https://www./2020/01/european-parliament-debates-over-hungary-and-poland/ Wed, 15 Jan 2020 23:01:37 +0000 https://www./?p=11133 A pro-government columnist believes Hungary’s critics in the EP condemn anyone who opposes their project of a single federal European state.

In Magyar Hírlap, Mariann Őry the accusations against Hungary and Poland within the European Parliament groundless. The EP invited the European Commission to report on the rule of law procedures against the two countries, which a majority of MEPs consider too protracted. Őry thinks such MEPs are motivated both by personal and political ambitions. As for the former, ‘Orbán-bashing’ is for them a ritual which allows them to become part of the ‘enlightened élite’. As for the latter, they earnestly promote the idea of a United States of Europe where individual countries will cease to exist and will become just regions of a federal state controlled from the centre. This is why they loathe anyone who stands up for national sovereignty and traditional values, she writes.