Hungary aids Notre Dame

Budapest is ready to contribute to the reconstruction of the burnt-out Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, Mayor Istvan Tarlós has written to his Parisian counterpart, Anne Hidalgo. "Notre Dame is an important symbol to us all and an important piece of universal Christian faith and culture," Tarlós said. Budapest would do all it could to support the repair to the best of its ability. Tarlós declined to say how much the city council would contribute, arguing that one "does not wave around the money he puts into the donation box in church, either". He said the contribution is not a "political move" but more of a "spiritual" question, and Budapest mayors have limited authority on use of council funds. The municipality of Szeged has offered EUR 10,000 and is launching a donation drive for Notre Dame, saying Paris had come to Szeged's aid after one of its largest floods 140 years ago. Szekesfehervar council has also offered EUR 10,000 for rebuilding.


Night flight ban soon

No scheduled flights will be allowed at Budapest's Liszt Ferenc International Airport between midnight and 5am from August on, under an agreement signed by the city and the Innovation and Technology Ministry. Mayor István Tarlós said the night ban will not cover "exceptional situations" in which flights could be granted a landing permit. Any violations will face a fine, and people living near the airport will get a government subsidy to put in soundproof windows.


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# Underpass at Balatonfenyves rail station repainted by graffiti artists (photos: MTI)


Dutch ‘pilfered MTVA video’

Hungarian public media company MTVA will file a complaint over Dutch leftist political party GroenLinks's unauthorised use of its copyrighted archival footage in a campaign video promoting the report by Dutch MEP Judith Sargentini on the rule of law in Hungary. MTVA said the creators of the video "The Sargentini Report: A European struggle for democracy in Hungary" had even covered up the logos of the Hungarian public media channels, thus proving their actions were deliberate. Citing Hungarian and European media laws, MTVA said video content created by others is protected by copyright and can only be used under licence and if the original sources are properly cited. MTVA said it has suffered a financial loss and copyright infringement is subject to criminal liability, hence the complaint.


Autumn start on bridge

Reconstruction work on Chain Bridge and Buda Castle Tunnel will start in October and be finished in spring 2021, Budapest Festival and Tourism Centre says. First, the tram line 2 tunnel will be renovated, then architects will start on Ádám Clark tér and the bridge and long tunnel themselves. Every single part of the bridge will be renovated or renewed, including the road, pavements, structural elements, lighting and the stone lions. Environmentally-friendly LED lamps will be installed, to change colours on national holidays and celebrations.Tram stations Széchenyi Square and Eötvös Square will be made over.


Ruling parties widen lead

As the European Parliament elections near on May 23-26, the ruling Fidesz-Christian Democrat alliance has widened its lead over rivals, according to a poll by Századvég Institute. If voting were held now, 36 percent would vote Fidesz, 9 percent for nationalist Jobbik, 7 percent for Socialist-Párbeszéd, 5 percent for leftist Democratic Coalition (DK), 3 percent each for LMP and the liberal Momentum Movement, 1 percent for radical nationalist Mi Hazánk (Our Homeland) Movement and a total 2 percent for all other parties. Fully 34 percent were uncertain of their party preference. Among decided voters, Fidesz was supported by 54 percent, Jobbik by 14 percent, Socialist-Párbeszéd 10 percent. DK 9 percent, LMP and Momentum 4 percent each, Mi Hazánk 2 percent and others a combined 3 percent.


# Ferencváros wins its 30th league title (photo: MTI)


Hungarian art for Venice

Contemporary new media art will be in the spotlight for the first time in the Hungarian pavilion at the prestigious Venice Biennale this year. An exhibition will feature "imaginary cameras" by prominent Hungarian contemporary visual artist Tamás Waliczky in 23 lightboxes along with animations and an interactive multimedia display allowing the visitor to try one of his optical devices. The artist says he "dreamed up and constructed" various new types of virtual cameras using graphic design software especially for the Venice Biennale. "My pieces are about understanding how visual perception works; my cameras and optical devices highlight the possibility of manipulation," he said. Waliczky will lead guided tours at the exhibition running from May 11-November 24.


# Llama born in Debrecen Zoo (photo: MTI)


Political attacks sting

A survey by Nézőpont Institute suggests that a majority of Hungarians and two-thirds of opposition supporters have a dim view of a comment by Socialist politician Ildikó Borbély Bangó berating Fidesz supporters. When asked about public support for the ruling Fidesz party in a recent television interview, the party's deputy parliamentary group leader said "there are many rats" in the country. According to the survey, 54 percent of Hungarians were "outraged" by the comment and 78 percent considered it inappropriate for MPs to use such language. The survey also found that Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi had outraged many people by suggesting the Fidesz administration should be referred to as a "rat government", with 52 percent finding the words "appalling".


# Mural Based on wellknown Hungarian animated movie Szaffi completed in District VIII (photo: MTI)


Better Belgrade rail set

A Chinese-Hungarian consortium that has won a tender to upgrade the rail line connecting Budapest and Belgrade will sign a contract by May 25, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó has said in Beijing. Details of the financing contract between Exim Bank of China and the Hungarian government are expected to be hammered out by mid-summer, Szijjártó said. Construction could start early in 2020 and be completed within five years. China is financing 85 percent of the cost. The line will become part of a corridor for delivery of Chinese goods to Europe from the port of Piraeus in Greece.


Rats but ‘no epidemic’

Budapest residents have reported fewer rat sightings since last August but their number is still higher than acceptable, Budapest Mayor István Tarlós has said. The municipal pest control company is working continuously and it is a "silly notion" that Budapest should have ever been completely rat-free, Tarlós said. There have been no large cities without rats, nor would there ever be due to tunnels, sewers, railway stations and illegal waste dumps, the mayor said. The city was not at risk of an epidemic, and the pest control company had won a public bid last year and was doing the job at a 23 percentage point lower price than its predecessor. Gergely Karácsony of the opposition Párbeszéd party said Budapest's "most crucial issue is if the city can stay a rat-free city or it has to get accustomed to rats running about in the street". He said the city's management was unable to handle the problem and had dismissed the company that had "provided faultless pest control for 47 years".


# King-size easter egg in Pécs (photo: MTI)


German jailed for life

A court in Szeged has jailed for life a German national who shot dead an acquaintance and critically injured another man in Hungary in 2017. The 53-year-old man of Turkish origin fired shots in a car park along the M5 motorway outside Csengele village near the Serbian border in a premeditated act. He will be eligible for parole after 30 years at the earliest. When freed he will be expelled from Hungary and banned from entering for ten years.


Plan ‘to beat’ Fidesz

Róbert Puzsér, an independent Budapest mayoral candidate backed by opposition Jobbik and LMP parties, has offered to cooperate with the rest of the opposition against Fidesz in the autumn local elections. Puzsér says he and his team are convinced the opposition can replicate the joint campaign that made Péter Márki-Zay mayor of Hódmezővásárhely in February 2018. Puzsér said Fidesz can only be ousted "from the centre and not from the far left". He said his offer comprised a "fair" division of the metropolitan districts among the opposition parties, a "minimum joint platform" that included an anti-corruption package, and a primary to select a joint Budapest mayoral candidate not organised by the Socialist Party.


# World Circus Day marked in Debrecen (photo: MTI)


Opera winners named

György Kurtág's Fin de Partie in Milan won the prize for best world premiere at the International Opera Awards in London. Fin de Partie was Kurtág's first opera, commissioned and staged in 2018 by the Teatro della Scala. He adapted Samuel Beckett's play “Endgame” as a one-act piece. At the awards gala, Lithuanian soprano Asmik Grigorian won for best female singer and US tenor Charles Castronovo for best male singer. The best company was the Belgian Opera Vlaaderen. The awards were founded by billionaire philanthropist Harry Hyman in 2012.


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