Grand Prix on July 19

The 2020 Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix will be held on July 19. The delayed season will open with the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5 and a second race at the same track a week later. Then come Hungary, Great Britain (August 2 and 9), Spain (August 16) and Belgium (August 30). The further itinerary is undecided. Racing had been put on hold because of the coronavirus outbreak but organisers have devised a plan they say will allow the season to begin safely.

Szijjártó has blastoff

Hungary continues to work to send an astronaut to the International Space Station, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó has said at a video conference of ministers in charge of space affairs. The meeting was organised by the Council of the European Union and focused on the role of space research and space-based services in offsetting the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Szijjártó noted that 2020 is the 40th anniversary of the first Hungarian astronaut's mission in space. Bertalan Farkas spent almost eight days in space in May-June 1980 and is now a special advisor to the foreign ministry. Szijjártó said the Hungarian government has drafted a national space strategy to increase the role of Hungarian companies in the sector. The government had also launched a long-term research project to send a Hungarian to the International Space Station by the middle of the decade, and Hungary had doubled its contribution to the European Space Agency.

# Korean ambassador Choe Kyoo Sik, Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony and foreign minister Péter Szijjártó commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Hableány boating accident

More in the saddle

More than 4000 people registered to use MOL Bubi in April, after the monthly fee for the capital's bike sharing system was reduced to a HUF 100 forints, Budapest Public Transport Centre (BKK) has said. More than 100,000 people are now registered to ride MOL Bubi bikes, with 7000-8000 regular users, BKK added. Since the system began in autumn 2014, MOL Bubi riders have taken 3,000,000-plus trips and travelled some 6,000,000 kilometres. The system now operates with 2071 bicycles and 157 docking stations in a 40-square-kilometre area in the centre of the capital.

Call for free beaches

The opposition Democratic Coalition will table an amendment obliging all municipalities at Lake Balaton to designate free beaches. Deputy group leader Gergely Arató said the move is to aid Hungarian families with average income who will find it even harder to holiday this year. Press reports show that already last year, a no-frills holiday cost at least HUF 300,000 for a family of four at the lake, he said. Surveys had shown that only four out of 10 Hungarian families could afford holidays there. It is unacceptable that entrance fees are being introduced at an increasing number of beaches, including those revamped from European Union funding, and the fees are "rapidly increasing", Arató said. Lake Balaton was a "shared treasure" and every citizen should get the chance to enjoy it.

# Semi transporting cars from Germany to Romania drifts off of M5 highway

Teachers reject guards

The PSZ teachers' union has disagreed with a government plan to set up a guard aimed at tackling violent crime in schools. The government recently tabled a bill on providing security for teachers and students on school premises. The guards would be authorised to take "professional and proportionate" action, including coercion. PSZ said that while it rejects any form of violence in schools and agrees that a peaceful atmosphere is necessary for proper functioning, it believes the most effective way to tackle aggression is to have more ancillary staff such as teaching assistants, family and youth-protection professionals and school psychologists. PSZ said the bill fails to adequately define the powers of the proposed school guards.

Revamp for Citadel

Budapest's Citadel, built as a military fortress by Habsburg Austria following the 1848-49 Revolution, will undergo a three-year reconstruction. The plans include creating a park in place of a World War Two bunker and a museum commemorating "Hungarian fights for freedom", project commissioner Gergely Fodor said. In disrepair for decades, the Citadel will open to the public in 2022. The exhibition space will open in the reconstructed cannon tower in 2023. Works are scheduled to start in autumn 2020 with a comprehensive assessment of the area, which will also show if the Liberty Statue needs reconstruction.

# Open air mass in Máriakálnok

Croatia, MOL 'INA talks'

Croatia's government will meet with Hungary's MOL by June 30 to discuss repurchasing its stake in Croatian oil and gas company INA, Environment and Energy Minister Tomislav Coric has said after getting a preliminary due diligence report on the buyback from financial advisory and asset management firm Lazard. The final due diligence report would follow in a month, Coric said. The next step would be “intensive communication with the other side”. Coric noted that INA is a listed company, which "limits the government's room for manoeuvre". MOL and the state of Croatia each own a little under half of INA's shares, but MOL exercises management rights. The sides have long been at odds over investments at the company, prompting Croatia's government to weigh a buyback. Croatia will hold early elections on July 5, and the matter of MOL's stake has become a campaign issue.

'Respite' for plastic

Hungary will ban single-use plastics from July 1, 2021, half a year later than planned. The head of the Prime Minister's Office, Gergely Gulyás, said that in the current difficult economic situation the ban must be introduced in a way that does not endanger jobs. The new date was set after talks between Minister of Innovation and Technology László Palkovics, key players in the sector and the MPs of the constituencies concerned. The government will make available HUF 10 billion to help the change in technologies, Gulyás said.

# Mayotte lemurs born in Nyíregyháza Zoo

Coronavirus hits trade

Retail sales in Hungary fell 10.2 percent year-on-year in April as the country went into a coronavirus lockdown, data from the Central Statistical Office show. Retail sales fell at the same pace when adjusted for calendar effects. Food sales edged down an adjusted 0.4 percent but non-food sales dipped 14.8 percent as opening times of non-essential businesses were restricted. A stay-at-home order caused vehicle fuel sales to plunge 26.3 percent. For January-April, retail sales rose an adjusted 2.5 percent and an unadjusted 2.6 percent year-on-year. Food sales rose 7.0 percent, non-food sales increased 1.8 percent and vehicle fuel sales fell 10.6 percent.

Population decline slows

Hungary's population decline slowed in the first four months of the year as the number of births rose 5.5 percent and deaths dropped 6.4 percent year-on-year, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) has reported. Preliminary figures show 29,280 births in January-April, up 1522 on 12 months ago. According to leap day-adjusted data, births were up 7.1 percent against 2019. The 45,015 deaths were down 3055, the significant drop partly due to the lower than usual number of deaths caused by the flu epidemic, which offset the fatalities of the coronavirus pandemic.

# Former Soviet nuclear bunker opens in Dunavarsány

Hungary 'role model'

Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy's opposition Northern League, speaking to Hungarian broadcaster MTI during a street demonstration in Rome, has called Hungary "a role model". He said: "Respect to the Hungarian people and government … Thank you for standing by us." Leader of the Brothers of Italy party, Georgia Meloni, said: "If anything changes in Europe, it will be thanks to the forces we represent and we are allied with." Demonstrations were held in more than 70 cities in Italy to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Loading Conversation

Château Béla in Slovakia, a Heritage Hotel of Europe

Raring to go, heading for the horizon

Three months of coronavirus lockdown is enough to make anyone stir-crazy. We're desperate to get out…

Initiative to safeguard guests during pandemic

Kempinski hotels debut White Glove Service

From luggage cleaning to bespoke face masks, luxury hotel brand Kempinski has unveiled a new "white…

Introducing Oleksandr Kachura, A War Correspondent and Refugee from Donetsk

Extracts from the Donbas War Zone

Geschrieben von Alexander Stemp

Oleksandr Kachura, 30, news reporter, photographer and frontline volunteer, originally comes from…