2019 with a bang

The ambulance service responded to 2890 emergencies during New Year's Eve celebrations, 830 of them in Budapest. Most calls were between midnight and 4am. Nine involved fireworks causing hand, face or eye injuries, and there were traffic accidents, scuffles, carbon monoxide poisonings and sicknesses. Also, 139 people were hospitalised for alcohol or other substance-related intoxication, 37 of them minors. Firefighters attended 53 fires and 62 incidents requiring rescue efforts, the national disaster management authority said. Altogether 25 of the incidents involved fires caused by fireworks. There were two road fatalities on New Year's Eve and a further seven accidents ended with serious injuries and 15 with minor injuries. Police caught four drunk drivers and took 104 people into custody.


# Winter at Balaton

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Another Dubai flight

Low-fare airline flydubai will launch a direct Budapest-Dubai flight in June, Budapest Airport, the operator of Liszt Ferenc International Airport, has said. The daily flight will operate with Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets with 166 passenger seats. Currently Emirates operates daily flights between Budapest and Dubai and Hungarian low-fare airline Wizz Air operates three services weekly.


Liget plan pressing ahead

Several construction projects will be completed with new ones getting under way in City Park under the Liget Budapest Project in 2019, the director-general of the project company has told state news agency MTI. Describing the project that will transform City Park into a museum quarter, Benedek Gyorgyevics noted the completion of the National Museum Restoration and Storage Centre. This will provide world-class art storage warehouses and conservation-restoration facilities covering almost 37,000 square metres. He further noted the completion of the Olof Palme House's restoration in the first half of the year and the complex's reopening with exhibitions presenting "The First Golden Age of Budapest and the City Park". The construction of the House of Hungarian Innovations, "one of the Liget's most exciting elements", will at the same time begin, Gyorgyevics said. Work on building a New National Gallery would also get under way, and he called the possibility to work on the gallery's design with world-class architect firm SANAA "an outstanding opportunity".


# A mongolian wild horse in Hortobágy National Park


Fidesz up, opposition down

The ruling Fidesz-led alliance's base has strengthened while support for the opposition has waned since the spring general election, according to a new poll by Nézőpont Institute. Fully 54 percent of decided voters back Fidesz, according to the poll between November 26 and December 15 with anti-government protests already under way. This is up 7 percent since the general election in April. Jobbik's base was 14 percent, dropping altogether 6 percent over the past eight months, while core support for the opposition Socialist Party's alliance with Párbeszéd stayed on 11 percent. The Democratic Coalition's core support slightly strengthened since April to stand at 7 percent, while it was 4 percent each for LMP and Momentum. MiHazánk, the party formed by former Jobbik politicians, and the satirical Two-Tailed Dog Party each firmed their support to 3 percent.


Festivals celebrate ties

A Hungarian cultural festival will be organised in Israel, Japan, South Korea and China this year to mark the anniversaries of Hungary's diplomatic ties with them, according to the official gazette Magyar Közlöny. Hungary will open cultural institutions in Tokyo and Seoul.


# Thousands of glass negatives from the 1920s found in the attic of a house in Pécs


Revamp for major squares

Two major squares in downtown Budapest, Vörösmarty and Podmaniczky, will be completely revamped in a project supported jointly by the government and the local district council, District V mayor Péter Szentgyörgyvölgy has said. The council is making every effort to create a downtown for the 21st century, he said. The over-30-year-old concrete pavement on Vörösmarty Square would be replaced with natural stone slabs, new lighting would be installed and all street furniture would be replaced. The square would thus be able to better serve the fairs and cultural events that it often hosted. Szentgyörgyvölgy said the area around Vörösmarty Square will also be involved, including a part of Deák Ferenc Street, Vigadó Street and Harmincad Street. Green surfaces in the square will increase by 7 percent and 15 trees will be planted there and around. Green surfaces on Podmaniczky Square would increase by 30 percent, 82 new trees would be planted, the trolley stop would be moved away, there would be new lighting and the pavement would be changed to natural stone. Vörösmarty Square will cost 2.3 billion forints and Podmaniczky Square 1.2 billion forints.


Zoo teeming with life

Budapest Zoo is home to 8807 animals of 856 species, making the collection one of Europe's most diverse, the zoo says. A total of 131 species of mammal, 152 of bird, 125 of reptile, 32 of amphibian and 204 of fish are on display. There are 206 species of invertebrate, around half of which are insects. Adolf Lendl, who headed the zoo between 1911 and 1919, was the first director who tried to present a diversity of species and was thus 50 years ahead his time, the zoo says, adding that this applies when it comes to plants, of which there are more than 4000. Budapest Zoo is 17th on the Sheridan list of top zoos in Europe, level with Copenhagen and Dublin.


# Imperial zebra born in Nyíregyháza Zoo


Refugee in drunken assault

An Afghan refugee has been sentenced in an accelerated procedure to 180 hours community service for assaulting a couple near Keleti railway station on New Year's Eve. The 24-year-old man was drunk and pushed a couple waiting at a bus stop. He then argued with them and hit them in the face, the Budapest public prosecutor's office said. He got on the bus with the couple and continued to act aggressively, also assaulting other passengers and damaging the windscreen when the driver stopped and asked him to get off. The 6th and 7th district local court sentenced him in a final ruling.


Imre Nagy on move

The memorial of Imre Nagy, Hungary's prime minister during the 1956 revolution, has been removed from Martyrs' Square near Parliament. Tamás Wachsler, the chief coordinator of reconstruction on the area around Parliament, said rehabilitation has got under way in line with the relevant government decision. The scheme's first step was the removal of Nagy for restoration, he said. The project involves relocating the memorial to nearby Jászai Mari Square, hopefully by June 16, the anniversary of Nagy's execution in 1958. Nagy’s former spot will be occupied by a reconstructed post-WWI monument dedicated to the martyrs of the communist Red Terror in 1919. The decision to relocate the statue was criticised by Katalin Jánosi, Nagy's granddaughter, and the Imre Nagy Association. The statue, depicting the martyred prime minister on a bridge, was inaugurated on June 6, 1996, his birth centenary.


# Government purchases Mihály Munkácsy‘s Golgotha for HUF 3 billion


US rejects war art claim

The United States Supreme Court has said it will not take on a lawsuit filed by the heirs of Hungarian art collector Mor Lipot Herzog against Hungary with the aim of recovering artifacts confiscated in 1944 and now kept in Hungarian museums. The court's decision means that an earlier appeals court ruling declaring that Hungary cannot be sued in the US remains binding. The Herzog heirs filed their lawsuit against Hungary in 2010, laying a claim to 40 pieces of art worth over USD 100 million. They also demand that the Hungarian government compile a list of all other items in state-run museums that were stolen from the famous private collection during the Second World War. In 2011, an American court accepted an appeal by Hungary asking the US to review whether the lawsuit could be pursued there. The Hungarian state argued that the American courts did not have jurisdiction to rule on ownership rights to the artifacts of the Herzog collection that are in Hungary, contending that the question had been settled in an agreement the two countries signed in 1973. The Herzog collection was seized after Hungary's Nazi occupation in 1944.


# Gábor Rakonczay becomes the first hungarian to reach the South Pole starting from the shoreline of Antarctica. He covered the 917 kilometres in 44 days and 4 hours


Hotter and hotter

The year 2018 was the hottest on record in Hungary, with temperatures rising faster than the rate of global warming, the national weather service has said. The records kept since 1901 show that the average temperature for Hungary was 11.99 degrees Celsius last year, the weather service said. This was 1.66 degrees Celsius above the average measured for 1981-2010.Of the ten hottest years on record, eight have been since 2000. The rate of warming since 1901 has been 1.23 degrees Celsius, which is slightly above the global figure.


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