The battle for the FKGP faction
Smallholder (FKGP) President József Torgyán finally managed to oust parliamentary caucus leader Attila Bánk from his position on Thursday—if the decision proves to be valid, that is.
Torgyán this time managed to assemble more than two-thirds of FKGP MPs for the session, during which the MPs in a secret ballot voted to remove Bánk. Péter Szentgyörgyvölgyi, Togyán's choice, was voted in as the new leader of the parliamentary group, while Torgyán himself was made "eternal and honorary" leader as well as deputy leader of the caucus.
Bánk, meanwhile, countered by saying that the meeting called together by Torgyán had no legitimacy whatsoever, as only he, as parliamentary caucus leader, could convene such a session.
János Áder, speaker of Parliament, said that all documents from the session would have to be examined before it could be decided who in fact is the Smallholder House leader. "We have to wait until the authentic documents arrive and only after examining them can we say who—according to House rules—can be considered leader of the FKGP parliamentary group," Áder stated, and added he was hopeful that it could be established on Monday 5 March who is leader of the Smallholder caucus.
A thorn in the side
Foreign Minister János Martonyi said on 28 February that he hoped talks with the European Union on the free movement of goods, services, people and capital could be completed by the end of the Swedish presidency, but added that the free movement of labour remains a tricky issue. Commenting on Germany's proposal that there should be a seven-year delay before citizens from the current candidate countries would be allowed to work freely in the EU, Martonyi said that it was likely that "the seven years' delay will appear in some form or other."
Speaking about Hungary's accession process last week, EU Ambassador to Budapest Michael Lake hinted that a deal could be made in connection with Hungary's demand for a ten-year transition period regarding the purchase of land by foreigners. Lake also commented on EU worries over the so-called status law on Hungarians in neighbouring states. Although the EU already gives special treatment to citizens of "related countries," a number of issues are cause for concern, he said, adding that the EU is asking for more information from Hungary because the Commission "wants to be convinced that the draft law is completely EU-compatible."
SZDSZ-MSZP Budapest coalition back on
Gábor Demszky and László Kovács, the Free Democrat (SZDSZ) and Socialist (MSZP) party heads, said after a meeting on Wednesday that the SZDSZ-MSZP coalition in the Budapest City Council would be brought back to life.
The week before, the SZDSZ had accused the MSZP of breaking the agreement between the two parties when the Socialists voted with the FIDESZ-Hungarian Civic Party, the Hungarian Democratic Forum and the Christian Democrats to push though the purchase of trams from Hanover. The two parties have now said they will approve this year's budget, including the tram purchase.
Demszky stated that both parties have a common interest in removing the Government from power as it has placed Budapest in an "impossible financial situation."
Socialists attack the Government
MSZP President László Kovács stated on 27 February that the ruling coalition is "mortally fallen" and unfit to govern. He said the attention of the coalition's politicians has been diverted towards reprisals and covering up corruption.
He also accused the Government of having wasted three years as far as agriculture is concerned, calling for extra funds to state farms in order to prevent them from going bankrupt.
Furthermore, Kovács called some of the speeches at official commemorations on the Memorial Day for the Victims of Communism on 25 February—the day in 1947 the Soviets arrested Smallholder First Secretary Béla Kovács and hauled him off to the Soviet Union—criticising the Socialist Party unacceptable.
Malév-Hungarian Airlines says it has several potential buyers for its Russian Tupolev aircraft, valued at between USD 360,000 to 540,000, which are being replaced by Boeing 737s.
When the Boeings enter to service, Malév will have the youngest fleet of aircraft in Europe. Malév spokesperson Margit Kocsi said new regulations as well as the financial aspect lay behind the purchase. The Tu-154s do not comply with EU environmental regulations.
And in other news...
- Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Foreign Ministry State Secretary Zsolt Németh last week met with Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ) Chairman Béla Markó in Budapest. They discussed the status law on Hungarians beyond the borders, the draft of which was discussed by the Government on Friday. Markó said, "the status law should be one that does not make it necessary for Hungarians of Romania to settle in Hungary in order to feel at home," adding that being Hungarian is not just an emotional matter but also one of status and interest. Markó believes the Government can do much to help Transylvanian Hungarians stay in their homeland, and to feel at home in both Hungary and Romania.
- The Hungarian Democratic Party of Vojvodina has called for personal autonomy and dual citizenship for Hungarians in the Yugoslav province. Chairman András Ágoston, speaking at the party congress, said the Alliance of Hungarians in Vojvodina (VMSZ) were unlikely to succeed in changing the situation for Hungarians because, as part of the Serbian government, they are constrained by the coalition agreement. Meanwhile, József Kasza (VMSZ), mayor of Subotica (Szabadka) and deputy prime minister of Serbia, last week said he would try to get the coalition's approval of the opening of a general consulate in the town.
- Foreign Ministry spokesman Gábor Horváth said on Thursday that Hungary could be covered by the US National Missile Defense (NMD). Ministry Deputy State Secretary Csaba Kőrösi, also commenting on the issue last week, stated "the US has now said that there are several options for implementation, indicating a shift in political thinking. Accordingly, NMD would protect NATO as a whole rather than a single member state. In other words, it would be extended to all member states, including Hungary."
- József Szőgényi, the lawyer appointed to defend Tímea F, the "Black Angel" who is thought to have killed 30 to 40 patients at Budapest's Gyula Nyírő hospital by lethal injections, has recommended that she alter or withdraw her confession. Szőgényi said he was under the impression that the nurse had given the injections not to kill the patients but only to relieve them of their pain.
- The Government last week postponed a meeting by three days, because Prime Minister Orbán was preparing for the football season. According to the Prime Minister's Office, Orbán, a registered player with fourth-division club Felcsút, was at a training camp in Croatia. Perhaps the national team, which on a muddy pitch last week drew 1-1 away to Bosnia-Hercegovina, could have used the Prime Minister's help.
Paul Nemes, 5 March 2001
Magyar Távirati Iroda
Central Europe Online
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