23 October commemorated
On 23 October, Hungary and Hungarians in neighbouring states and throughout the world commemorated the outbreak of the 1956 Revolution. Official ceremonies were held in Kossuth square outside Parliament.
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Leading politicians also paid tribute to late Prime Minister Imre Nagy, executed after the Revolution. Former President Árpád Göncz expressed concern with what he sees as a slipping out of view of Nagy, as he believes his deeds should place him on an equal footing with Lajos Batthyány, Hungary's first prime minister, executed after the 1848-49 War of Independence.
Crimes of Communism raised
Also on 23 October, the ninth Congress of the International Association of Individuals Persecuted Under Communism came to a close in Budapest. After the three-day meeting, the Association's chairman, Juraj Knezovic, called for a "scientific" investigation of the crimes of Communism and suggested that the "inhumane deeds committed under Communism" should be made public in detail.
Jenő Fónay, Chairman of the Association of Hungarian Political Prisoners (POFOSZ), said that just as Nazi crimes have already been condemned, the world should similarly condemn the crimes of Communism.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán wrote in a letter to the assembly that "it is never too late to account for the past, and we cannot allow the dark forces lurking in the world of politics to destroy the values on which a healthy society is built."
Németh says no thanks to MSZP top job
Former Prime Minister Miklós Németh will not stand as a nominee for Socialist Party (MSZP) president, or for any other executive party post, it was announced at Wednesday's MSZP committee meeting. According to Magyar Hírlap, Németh's reason for not accepting a nomination was that "under the present Socialist Party statutes he would be unable to put his ideas into practice."
Present MSZP President László Kovács has, however, been nominated for re-election to the post. Former Prime Minister Gyula Horn branded Kovács "not active enough," and also said that the current party policy is too defensive. Horn urged the party to find a suitable role for Németh in the party, proposing that the upcoming party congress, to be held in November, elect Németh as the MSZP's prime ministerial candidate.
Meanwhile, several MSZP MPs have been quoted as saying that Németh is using "gentle" blackmail to ensure that the party chooses a candidate for Prime Minister at the party congress.
VMSZ look for solutions
After the first meeting of the Vojvodina parliament on 23 October, Alliance of Hungarians in Vojvodina (VMSZ) MP Sándor Egeresi, also elected deputy speaker, said that the transformation of the parliament "represented a milestone," and that he now sees real possibilities for "resolving the situation of the region," as well as developing autonomy which provides for the concerns of Vojvodina's Hungarians.
Meanwhile, Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) MP Miklós Csapody, who last week was in Yugoslavia attending commemorations of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, said upon his return to Budapest that the Hungarians in Vojvodina expect Hungary to create more trade and business links with Vojvodina, and also to support Vojvodina's autonomy more effectively. He added that Yugoslav Hungarians are especially eager to end their isolation and yearn for more liberalised travel to Hungary.
Csapody also said he believes the 14 seats won by the VMSZ in the 117-seat Vojvodina parliament to be a huge leap forward in terms of political representation for the Hungarian community.
Budapest EU conference
On Thursday, President Ferenc Mádl opened a conference entitled The European Union at Crossroads. The focal point of the conference is the EU institutional reform, at Budapest's Eötvös Loránd University. President Mádl and Foreign Minister Martonyi both addressed the conference, with the latter stating that the planned closer co-operation should not mean the emergence of a "two-speed Europe." Martonyi declared that whether or not a supranational character of the European Commission could be retained would be crucial to the reform.
Meanwhile, speaking on enlargement of the Union at Thursday's session of the parliamentary European integration committee, Martonyi said there were good indications that the inter-governmental conference could be concluded before the end of the year, thus "removing the last obstacle to the acceleration" of the process. He added that it is possible for the last phase of accession talks to begin in 2001, in the "best-case scenario."
Dávid on the road
On Tuesday, Justice Minister Ibolya Dávid and her Romanian counterpart, Valerui Stoica, opened a conference for Hungarian and Romanian legal experts. At the beginning of the Tîrgu Mureş (Marosvásárhely) conference, Dávid stressed that the aim of joining the European Union requires the two countries to cooperate in a number of areas, not only on the legal matters.
On 26 and 27 October, Dávid met with representatives from the Visegrád Four and Romania responsible for minority affairs in Prague. The ministers were expected to focus on issues concerning the Roma.
Meanwhile, Flórián Farkas, Lungo Drom and National Roma administration chairman, last week told Népszabadság that his organisation and other Roma and non-Roma organisations will establish a new political party, which will aim to influence the formation of a government after the next election. The main aim of the party, the name of which Farkas did not reveal, will be to fight poverty.
And in other news...
- HVG reports that Smallholder (FKGP) President József Torgyán and parliamentary faction leader Attila Bánk have discarded an allegation that FKGP MPs plan to join the FIDESZ parliamentary caucus following the Zoltán Székely scandal.
- On Wednesday, the Hungarian pavilion at the Hanover World Expo welcomed its three millionth visitor, Henry Merz from Kiel. With its 40,000 visitors per day, a number that is doubled during weekends, the Hungarian pavilion is one of the most popular exhibits.
- Prague City Council decided on Wednesday not to support a plan put forward by Budapest Mayor Gábor Demszky, which proposes that the mayors of Budapest, Prague and Warsaw together call on the EU to make a decision on accession at the upcoming Nice summit.
- On Monday last week, András Veér, director of the National Psychiatry and Neurology Institute, left for Russia to search for more forgotten Prisoners of War. Veér said he thought the trip was necessary, as around 80 families had claimed to be relatives of András Toma, the Hungarian Second World War POW who returned home in August.
Paul Nemes, 27 October 2000
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