Syrian 'a terrorist'

Hungarian prosecutors say they have charged a Syrian national alleged to have been a member of the Islamic State terrorist organisation with carrying out acts of terrorism and crimes against humanity. The 27-year-old man, Hassan F., is alleged to have commanded an armed group of the Islamic State and was arrested in Hungary in March this year and now faces life in prison, Tibor Ibolya of the municipal prosecutor's office of investigation said. According to the indictment, the man ordered multiple executions in his homeland in May 2015. Hassan F. is suspected of having ordered the occupation of Al-Sukhnah in the Syrian province of Homs and drawing up a "death list" of those who rejected Islamic State's goals. The executions included the public beheading of the local imam and at least 25 people including women and children in the town. Hassan F. is also suspected of having personally participated in the execution of the imam and at least another two people. He allegedly shot another person. Ibolya said the prosecutors had questioned Hassan F. over 29 hours since March, and in the meantime ten other people including witnesses had been questioned in Malta and Belgium. An investigation with the involvement of Hungary's counter-terrorism force TEK was under way in several EU member states, including in Malta, Belgium and Greece. Cooperation among the countries' law enforcement agencies had been coordinated by the Hungarian office of Eurojust.


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Holocaust film chosen

Hungary has chosen director Barnabás Tóth's post-Holocaust drama “Those Who Remained” as its entry in the Oscars' International Feature Film category. The IMDb (Internet Movie Database) describes the film as a lyrical story of the healing power of love in the midst of national conflict, loss and trauma, revealing the healing process of Holocaust survivors through the eyes of a young girl in post-World War Two Hungary. The members of the Hungarian Oscar Committee that chooses nominations include film director Ibolya Fekete, Hungarian Film Fund CEO Ágnes Havas, film distribution expert András Kálmán, university lecturer András Bálint Kovács and directors István Kovács, Pál Sándor and Ferenc Török.

Wages on rise

The average gross wage for full-time workers in Hungary rose an annual 10.6 percent to 364,799 forints in June, the Central Statistical Office has said. Net wages grew at the same pace, reaching 242,591 forints. Calculating with 12-month consumer price index of 3.4 percent in June, real wages were up 7.0 percent. Excluding the 100,500 Hungarians in fostered work programmes, the average gross wage rose 9.6 percent to 375,106 forints, while net wages grew at the same rate to 249,446 forints. ING Bank senior analyst Péter Virovácz said this pace could be maintained in the second half, but the question is when companies would scale back recruitment efforts because of external uncertainties, impacting remuneration. Takarékbank chief analyst András Horvath put full-year wage growth around 10.3 percent, lifted by the tight labour market and record low unemployment. He said the gap between wage growth in the public and private sectors could narrow with a rise in healthcare workers' pay.

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Withering away

The rate of population decline increased in the first six months of 2019 after 2.8 percent fewer births and 1.0 percent more deaths were registered compared with the same period last year, the Central Statistical Office says. In the six months, 41,902 children were born, 1201 fewer than in January-June 2018, while 67,741 died, an increase of 691. The rate of natural population decline was 7.9 percent higher than in the same period a year earlier.

Action on Microsoft

Hungary's chief public prosecutor's office has ordered an investigation in the so-called Microsoft case on suspicion of fraud causing especially high damage and of other criminal wrongdoings. The United States Department of Justice announced in July that in a non-prosecution agreement Microsoft Hungary had agreed to pay a criminal penalty of USD 8,751,795 to resolve a bribery case that involved inflated margins for state orders pocketed by middlemen. The prosecutor's office said it had received information relevant to the case from the US Justice Department, and it had asked the latter to provide all relevant information, including any which could be a basis for criminal procedure. In the meantime, the office also carried out an initial analysis of the documents published by the Justice Department and the US Securities Commission. The office said it had also received two criminal complaints about the matter.

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GDP climbs 4.9%

Hungary's second-quarter GDP rose 4.9 percent year-on-year, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) has confirmed in a second reading of data. On the production side, value added in the industrial sector rose 3.8 percent during the period. Within the sector, manufacturing expanded 3.1 percent. Growth in the construction sector reached 27.9 percent. The farm sector contracted 1.1 percent. The service sector expanded 4.2 percent, as the retail and wholesale trade, commercial accommodations and catering segment grew 7.5 percent and the infocommunications segment grew 5.9 percent. Professional, scientific, technical and administrative activities increased 6.5 percent. KSH said services contributed 2.2 percentage points to headline growth, while the construction sector added 1.2 percentage point and the industrial sector 0.9 percentage point. On the expenditure side, household final consumption rose 4.5 percent. Gross fixed capital formation jumped 16.4 percent. Export volume rose 2.7 percent and import volume was up 4.3 percent. K&H Bank chief analyst Dávid Németh augured full-year growth of 4.3 percent, saying the slowdown on global markets does not bode well for Hungary's industrial sector. ING Bank senior analyst Péter Virovácz put growth for the full year at 4.7 percent, slowing as unfavourable external conditions catch up with Hungary.

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Compulsory euro: DK

The opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) will propose in the European Parliament that the European Union should legally compel Hungary to introduce the euro, DK MEP Csaba Molnár says. The euro is expected to reach "historic highs" against the forint within days, impacting the prices of fuel, food and drugs, Molnár warned. Hungary pledged to introduce the common currency during its accession negotiations (before joining the bloc in 2004), he said. Adopting the euro "immediately" would boost the Hungarian economy, and had the support of the majority of citizens. Ruling Fidesz responded: "[DK leader] Gyurcsány and company want to put Hungary at Brussels' mercy." Fidesz said Gyurcsány's government had given up Hungary's financial sovereignty and "ruined and nearly bankrupted the country". Under Fidesz, Hungary was growing stronger financially and had become one of the most dynamically growing economies of the EU with permanently low deficit and inflation.

Museums score in China

The National Museum of Hungary (MNM) won the grand prize and a gold medal at a multimedia festival organised in Shanghai by AVICOM, the international committee for audiovisual and new image and sound technologies, a body of the International Council of Museums (ICOM). The museum's exhibition of Hungarian aristocracy in the 17th-19th centuries, which drew some 700,000 visitors in the Shanghai Museum since June 2017, featured a five-metre interactive display dubbed the Magic Wall, allowing visitors to inspect the exhibited objects interactively. The wall, which won the grand prize at AVICOM's F@IMP 2.0 online festival, is a Hungarian innovation developed mostly in Shanghai. Currently, several Chinese museums and Budapest's Museum of Fine Arts own such interactive surfaces. The MNM's documentary on a memorial to forced labour in the communist era, Hungarian National Museum Malenkij Robot Memorial Place, won the gold medal in its category. The open-air museum in Szentendre was awarded silver medals for the short film “I'm from Hungary” and the documentary Hand/Craft/Art. The Petofi Museum of literature won a bronze medal for its exhibition dubbed CSATH* The sorcerer's garden.

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School 'great opportunity'

The development of Debrecen can serve as an example to all Hungarian cities, head of the Prime Minister's Office Gergely Gulyás has said at the opening of the International School of Debrecen (ISD). Debrecen's transformation into a cross-border regional centre would be impossible to sustain without such a high-level international school, Gulyas said. The school has been built with 3.8 billion forints support from the central budget, he added. There were few educational institutions in the region that had the International Baccalaureate certificate and ISD "will be a great opportunity for the city and also for Hungary". Talented students from Debrecen and its region whose parents could not afford to pay for the international school could apply for scholarships from the local council. The school would start operations with 56 students this year, expected to increase to 500 in five years.

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Helicopters for army

Four new H145M helicopters will join the Hungary Army's fleet this year and the training of pilots and technical staff is already under way in the company's German plant, Airbus Helicopters programme manager Martin Keller has said. Next year, an additional 12 and in 2021 another six H145M helicopters will be added to the fleet, Keller said at the plant in Donauworth, Germany. Head of the Hungarian air force's development directorate László Nagy said the production of 14 helicopters had already started, six were in the final stages of production and two had already made their first flights. Two Hungarian pilots and ten technical staff are currently receiving their training in Donauworth where a total of 50 pilots and 60 technical staff will be trained, he said. They would have to complete around 50 training sessions to receive all the necessary permits. In line with the contract, simulator training for pilots could be moved to Hungary but a decision has yet to be made.

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