Festival highlights Russia

Russian culture will be spotlighted at this year's Budapest Spring Festival, which will feature classical music, opera, dance, plays and jazz from April 5-22. The festival will open with a highlight, Mussorgsky's second and last completed opera “Khovanshchina” in the Palace of Arts (Mupa). It will be shown in the original form with Russian singers and the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Choir and Children's Choir plus the Honved Male Choir. Another highlight will be Tchaikovsky's last opera “Iolanta” by St Petersburg's Mariinsky Orchestra with renowned conductor Valery Gergiev in Mupa on April 20. Gergiev will also conduct two performances of Prokofiev's “Cinderella” by the Mariinsky Theatre's Ballet Company in the Erkel Theatre on April 22. The festival will celebrate Italian Renaissance master Michelangelo with an exhibition showing 30 of his drawings in the Museum of Fine Arts. The concurrent Budapest Art Week will offer 70 exhibitions.


# Annual "Busójárás" – a tradition to scare winter away – is held in Mohács

Airport night ban mooted

The Budapest municipal council has proposed banning all air traffic at Budapest's Liszt Ferenc International Airport between midnight and 5am to curb noise pollution, a scheme backed by air traffic control service HungaroControl, Mayor István Tarlós has told daily Magyar Nemzet. Talks have started between the city council, HungaroControl and airport operator Budapest Airport. "Budapest Airport is open to the idea, which I think can be implemented shortly," Tarlós said, adding that a long-term proposal of the council is to move cargo and military traffic to another airport, further from Budapest.

Zamárdi snares Red Bull

This year's Red Bull Air Race will be held at Zamárdi in July, with competitors flying over Lake Balaton. The race has been banned in Budapest because of "inadequate conditions". Zamárdi mayor Gyula Csakovics said spectators could watch from Zamárdi's three-kilometre beach, and pilots could use nearby airports in Sármellék, Siófok or Szentkirályszabadja. The city of Keszthely, on the south-west shore of Lake Balaton, had also vied to hold the race, partnering with neighbouring spa town Héviz.

Swedish diplomat called in

The foreign ministry has summoned the Swedish ambassador to Hungary over remarks by Sweden's minister of social affairs Annika Strandhall. She said on Twitter that developments in Hungary were "alarming". The government's latest family policies "reeked" of the 1930s and she suggested that they affected "the independence women have fought for". The ministry expressed "outrage" at her accusation against the government "of Nazism for helping families with children … The pro-migration Swedish minister refuses to acknowledge that the Hungarian government is spending public money on Hungarian families rather than on migrants."

# Cyclist competition downmall tour stops in Budapest

Park lauds Yitzhak Rabin

A park in District XIV will be named after former Israeli Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Yitzhak Rabin. The metropolitan assembly voted 25 in favour with one abstention. Budapest and the Israeli embassy had agreed to designate a public space to mark the 70th anniversary of the independence of the State of Israel.

East gains on west

Hungarians have a dimmer view of western Europe than five years ago but their attitude to eastern European countries brightened between 2013 and 2018, market research firm Psyma Hungary has said. Psyma used a representative sample of 1000 people to gauge how sympathetic they were to various European countries at the end of 2013 and 2018. While nearly all western European countries lost popularity, they still score highly, with Switzerland, Austria, the UK and Spain ranking highest. The eastern European country to poll best is Croatia, which shares fifth place with Sweden. Support has grown for Serbia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. "The waning appeal of western European countries is connected with their handling of the migration crisis," Psyma said. "Support for Germany has plummeted and France also ranks much lower than in 2013." Asked about their approach to the United States and Russia, Hungarians are still markedly pro-American, Psyma said.

Sporting chance together

Hungary and Austria will submit joint bids for future sport events. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade state secretary Tamás Menczer said after meeting head of the sports department of Austria's Federal Ministry for the Civil Service and Sport Philipp Trattner, in Vienna, that this would improve chances of winning such bids. "Sports are of strategic importance for Hungary," Menczer said. "The country's sports infrastructure has progressed significantly and everything is ready for serious sporting events to be brought to Hungary."

# LEGO exhibition opens in Hungarian Natural History Museum

Boarding, the V4

The high-speed railway to connect Budapest, Bratislava, Ostrava and Warsaw will be one of the most ambitious projects the Visegrád Four countries have ever launched, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó has said after talks with vice-president of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Vazil Hudak. The feasibility study is already in the pipeline, with the four countries expecting the bank to part-finance the project, the ministry said. Both sides hailed the recent establishment of an EIB V4 platform. Szijjártó assured Hudak that Hungary would continue to support the EIB's lending operations in the Western Balkans and the Eastern Partnership countries.

Van Dyck on show

The Museum of Fine Arts has bought Anthony Van Dyck's “Wedding Portrait of Princess Mary Henrietta Stuart”, which was originally commissioned to celebrate the nine-year-old’s wedding to fourteen-year-old William of Orange in 1641. Christie's auctioned it in December and the museum paid HUF 2.1 billion with a government grant. At the presentation of the portrait to the press, Human Resources Minister Miklós Kásler noted that Van Dyck was a giant of his era, equal to his master Peter Paul Rubens.

# Takin born in Nyíregyháza Zoo

Tony Curtis exhibition to open in Mátészalka

An exhibition of the personal effects of Hollywood star Tony Curtis will open in August in Mátészalka. Curtis was born as Bernat Schwartz in 1925 in New York, to Hungarian parents who emigrated from the Hungarian town. His about 100 films included hits such as “Spartacus”, “Some Like It Hot” and “Houdini”. He won two Golden Globe awards and was once nominated for an Oscar. Curtis received the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, Officers' Cross, in 1996. He died in 2010. The exhibition consists of about 20 household objects and paintings, donated to Mátészalka by his widow, Jill-Curtis Weber, in 2017.

Fidesz widens lead over opposition

The Fidesz-Christian Democrat (KDNP) alliance leads the polls among decided voters for the European parliamentary (EP) elections with 54 percent, which would increase its number of seats to 14 from 12, a poll by Nézőpont Institute commissioned by daily Magyar Nemzet shows. The ruling parties' popularity has risen 7 percent since last year's general election, the poll shows. Of the opposition parties, conservative Jobbik's support fell to 13 percent among decided voters, which would translate to three seats in the EP. The Socialist-Parbeszed alliance has 11 percent, which would mean two seats. The leftist Democratic Coalition (DK) is backed by 6 percent and LMP by 5 percent, representing one seat each. The Momentum Movement and the satirical Two-tailed Dog party would each garner 4 percent, and the radical nationalist Mi Hazank (Our Homeland) party 3 percent. Among the whole population, Fidesz-KDNP has support of 40 percent, Jobbik 8 percent, Socialist-Parbeszed 7 percent, DK 4 percent, LMP 3 percent, with Momentum, the Two-tailed Dog party and Mi Hazank at 2 percent each, the poll showed.


# Architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro‘s plans selected for new MuseuM of Transportation

Fewer Hungarians, still

The population of Hungary declined 41,300 in 2017 as a net result of 89,800 live births and 131,100 deaths, the Central Statistical Office has said. It fell 40,097 in 2016, when there were 91,577 live births and 131,674 deaths. KSH noted that the estimated total fertility rate was 1.49 percent, the same as in 2017. Thus, the willingness to have children remained unchanged and the number of live births fell due to the decline in the number of women of child-bearing age. The estimated national population including the net effects of migration was at 9,764,000 at the end of the year. There were 50,900 marriage ceremonies in 2018, up 0.6 percent, or 328, compared with 2017.

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