Illustration - Photo: wikipedia

Nagy: European agriculture must be focused on farmers

Competitiveness, crisis management, sustainability and a knowledge-based economy will be on the agenda of the six-month Hungarian presidency of the Council of the European Union starting in July in order to make European agriculture focused on farmers, the minister of agriculture said on Monday.

Istvan Nagy told the press after a council meeting of EU agriculture ministers that there was “a huge amount at stake” in the European Parliament elections on June 9 because Brussels must be forced to make a major change in its direction and to allow a focus on farmers to find its way and role also in the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP).

“We expect the election to make Europe return to a ground of normality,” he said. “The interests of farmers must be protected because we protect the interests of European citizens through them, by guaranteeing everyday food security,” he added.

Tamas Sulyok - Photo: hirado.hu

Lawyers’ Chamber ‘shocked’ by accusations levelled at president

The Hungarian Lawyers' Chamber has said it was "shocked" that a political party had called President Tamas Sulyok a "common criminal" and "servant of the land mafia" over his previous work as a lawyer.

In a statement on Monday, the chamber said it was “deeply concerning” that “in the heat of the political battles” political players were making accusations that “seriously harm public trust in not just the office of the president but also the legal profession”.

The chamber said it was convinced that Sulyok’s work as a lawyer had been held in “high public esteem”. It added that the president had always stood up for lawyers’ and the chamber’s independence in his academic work and during his time as a Constitutional Court judge, which he considered fundamental pillars of the rule of law and public trust.

It was this public trust, they said, that had been “attacked with the aforementioned harsh statements”. They added that the Lawyers’ Chamber always took the necessary action against lawyers who violated the laws or ethics rules pertaining to them, and would also take action against the “unworthy attacks” made against lawyers in the interest of protecting public trust in the profession.

Photo: Flickr

Final decision made on Hungarian astronaut, backup for ISS mission

In line with the final decision of an expert committee, Tibor Kapu has been selected as the Hungarian astronaut to be sent to space and his backup will be Gyula Cserenyi, the foreign minister said on Monday.

The ministry cited Peter Szijjarto as saying before setting off for a European Union foreign ministers’ meeting in Brusssels that Kapu and Cserenyi will undergo the last phase of training.

Kapu is a 32-year-old mechanical engineer with a background in battery development in the automotive industry, and Cserenyi is a 35-year-old electrical engineer, he added.

The two men were among four candidates in the Hungarian to Orbit (HUNOR) programme.

Hungary will send an astronaut to the International Space Station, with the cooperation of US-based Axiom Space, for a 30-day research mission at the end of 2024 or early in 2025.

Finance Minister Mihaly Varga – Photo: Facebook

Finance Minister: Further room for nourishing Hungarian-Swiss economic ties

Swiss businesses are benefitting from Hungary's competitive taxes and escalating growth, while Hungarian companies have a growing presence in Switzerland, Mihaly Varga, the finance minister, said after meeting counterpart Karin Keller-Suttert.

Switzerland is the 9th largest investor in Hungary, the finance ministry said in a statement on Monday, further noting that Swiss companies employ 30,000 people.

Bilateral trade turnover overtook the two-billion-euro mark in 2023, and the more than 800 Swiss companies have remained committed to Hungary during the war, it said, adding that like Hungary, Switzerland also stood for peace.

An agreement on double tax avoidance is expected to be passed by the Swiss parliament in June and would further boost economic ties, Varga said.

Regarding Hungary’s EU presidency, Varga said much emphasis will be placed on the EU’s competitiveness and demographic challenges, the green transition and sustainable debt, in preparation for the bloc’s 2025 budget.

Varga said Switzerland’s Hungarian diaspora was a notable link between the two countries.

Gyorgy Matolcsy - Photo: MTI

NBH governor addresses Tsinghua PBCSF Global Finance Forum

Gyorgy Matolcsy, the governor of the National Bank of Hungary (NBH), took part in the 2024 Tsinghua PBCSF Global Finance Forum, the central bank said on Monday.

Matolcsy joined a panel discussion on mitigating economic fragmentation at the forum which marked the 80th anniversary of the establishment of the Bretton Woods system.

He underlined the importance of learning from the patterns of economic and financial cycles and using those lessons to redesign the global monetary system with a view to ensuring global financial stability.

He stressed that overlapping structural changes related to the green and digital transitions required new approaches.

Matolcsy was named an honorary professor by the rector of Fudan University during his visit to China.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán - Photo: PMO

Orbán: June 9 election about war and peace

The June 9 election is about war and peace, "the future of our children and overall Hungarian life opportunities", Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview with the Patriota YouTube channel on Sunday.

Orbán said he had been shocked by the assassination attempt against Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and his first thought had been worry for his counterpart’s life. His second thought, he said, had been that he would be “left on his own” in Brussels with its stance on the war and that he would have “all kinds of extra security rules” forced on him.

Concerning the war, Orbán said European politicians tended to think of the nuclear bomb mostly as a “tactical tool of deterrence” and not something that actually needed to be used. He added, however, that the problem was that no one had thought in the second world war that the Americans would use nuclear bombs.

Orbán said he considered discussions about nuclear weapons “a bad omen”. “The expression ‘NATO mission in Ukraine’ makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up,” the prime minister said. He said talk of tactical nuclear weapons, depleted-uranium munitions, a world war itself, and sending a defence alliance’s troops outside its territory was “terrifying”.

He said resistance to these things was not as strong among Westerners as it was among Hungarians, adding that “we’re now in the midst of a process which ten years from now may be spoken of as part of the prelude to the third world war.”

As regards the economic damage caused by the war, Orbán said EU countries had so far poured around 100 billion euros into the conflict, as had the United States, adding that the stagnation of the European economy, which he said “has probably cost a couple hundred billion more”, could also be counted among the “casualties” of the war.

Orbán said though the people did not know it, they too were paying for the war, arguing that prices in shops “aren’t like they are in peacetime”.

“Not to mention that the number of casualties in the Russia-Ukraine war is already between 500,000 and 1 million,” Orbán said. “And that’s with just two Slavic countries at war, but not Europe.”

The prime minister said he regularly asked the question as to how many more weapons and how much more money it would take to push the Russians out of Ukraine, but that the only answer he was getting was that “Putin can’t be allowed to win”. Europe, he said, was drifting into a war without there even being estimates regarding the amount of money and equipment that would be needed to reach its military objective, adding that he had “never seen anything more irresponsible”.

Orbán noted that around 57 million people died in the first and second world wars, with Hungary, too, suffering a death toll of more than 1.5 million. “If they could’ve lived normal family lives, Hungary today wouldn’t have demographic problems, and neither would Europe, and there wouldn’t be any room left for migration,” the prime minister said.

“These are things we lost with the war,” he said, adding that every European war “is also a European civil war where we’re killing each other”. Therefore every European leader’s first reflex in any war should be to prevent an escalation, and all armed conflicts should be deemed a failure, he said.

Concerning the topic of mandatory military service which is gaining traction in western Europe, Orbán said that after peace had been established in Europe, “we all thought this wasn’t necessary”. “It would be good to stick with the current situation and let a professional army handle things, and there is some fundamental knowledge that can be passed on to young people even without military service,” he added.

“We don’t want someone else to decide on the deployment of our military-age youth,” the prime minister said, adding, however, that Manfred Weber, the head of the European People’s Party “is talking about this and a pan-European military to which conscription would be mandatory”. “That’s something we’re not going to do. Forget it. That’s one of the crazy ideas,” Orbán said.

The prime minister said the stabler the Hungarian government was and the clearer people’s opinion on war and peace and support of peace was, the greater chance he had to keep the country out of the war.

He said the “case of NATO” was more difficult, arguing that the government had a “good understanding of the European Union’s efforts to push us into the war”, but NATO was a defence alliance that now wanted to start down on the path of becoming party to the war.

“So we must also continue to stand for peace in NATO and prevent them from forcing us into the war, regardless of the military arguments they’d use; this is something we must stay out of in the end,” Orbán said.

He said there were some who argued in the opposite direction, adding that though those arguments may not be illogical, they posed such a grave risk to Hungary “that could be measured in tens and hundreds of thousands of lost young people”. He said Hungary therefore had to do everything it could to stay out of the conflict.

On the topic of global economic competition, the prime minister said that competitors that dropped out found themselves at a disadvantage, and Europe was in this situation now. The Americans could easily sell their excess oil and gas, having prohibited the Europeans from buying from the Russians, he added.

Meanwhile, the Russians, he said, had developed the techniques for moving gas around the world by tankers and via LNG terminals. And the Chinese saw that the changing balance of power was playing into their hands, Orbán said.

“Those of us who are pro-peace must launch a counterattack on two fronts,” he said. One in Europe, where, he said, it was not only about having more pro-peace MEPs in the European Parliament than pro-war ones, but also about European voters pushing their own governments in the direction of “less war and more peace”. The other one, Orbán said, was the November election in the United States. He said that if “the current pro-war Democratic administration stays in power, it will be hard to move towards peace”. If Donald Trump returned, it would still not be easy, but that would enable clear, transparent and quick action, Orbán said.

The prime minister said an immediate ceasefire was the most important thing now. “We need a sense of security, a perspective, so we can all believe that, of course, a big problem happened here, a war, but our leaders, both in Europe and America, have not lost their common sense.”

Orbán said it was not only US financier George Soros who was profiting off the war, but there were also others who were speculating, “the entire arms industry, and those who lend money for the purchase and production of arms”. He said there were huge monies and huge stakes on the table, and it took four things for them to succeed.

“First, you need weapons, and they will finance the production of weapons,” Orbán said. “Then, you need men who are willing to fight, like the Ukrainians. Then, you need governments who want this, and they need to be bought just as the left has been bought in Hungary. And the fourth important thing is the media; there needs to be a corrupt media that is either controlled by them or was created by them, which conveys a pro-war atmosphere.”

Speaking about Hungary, Orbán said at least half the media here offered a liberal worldview and the other half had a conservative, national sovereigntist worldview. This wide scope for describing and interpreting the world was not available in the West, he said.

He said it mattered to “the war lobby” whether Hungary stayed out of the war or not, because if it turned out that a country can be successful by staying out, “they will fear that others could follow suit”. Therefore, he added, they would look to Hungary as a “dangerous example”.

The June 9 European Parliament election, Orbán said, could be an important stage that would realign the European political battlefield. The entire European continent needed the people to “give a kick in the pants to those who brought all this trouble on them”, he said.

He described the current European Commission as the worst one he had ever seen, which had turned into a “war council”, and the European Parliament was slowly becoming a “war body”, while people were moving towards peace. Orbán said they had made “all kinds of plans that they are unable to put into action”, like ending the war by adopting sanctions, and making industry competitive through a green transition, but industry seemed to be dying in the meantime.

“It is not just about the war — although, of course, that is by far the most important thing — but we are also talking about the viability of European democracy as a whole,” he said.

“In Europe, what should happen is what the people want,” he said. “If they want peace, then there should be peace. If they want the green transition to be rationalised, then let it be rationalised. If they don’t want farmers to be ruined by these idiotic rules, then those rules should be changed.”

Orbán said this EP election was not only about how Hungary’s 21 seats should be distributed among the parties. He said everything had a far broader meaning and far bigger things were at stake than usual. “It is not about media hype or party matters, but about war and peace, the future, the future of our children, and opportunities for Hungarians in general,” the prime minister concluded.

Defence Minister Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky - Photo: Facebook

Defence Minister: Hungarians want peace

Hungarians are indebted to their heroes, and they can repay that debt by protecting the free Hungary they fought for, the defence minister said, marking Hungarian Heroes' Day at Fiumei Street cemetery, on Sunday.

“We owe it to every Hungarian that we don’t drag them into a senseless and avoidable war being fought for others’ interests,” Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky said at a ceremony.

The minister said the communist dictatorship had “devalued” the first world war and the sacrifices that had been made for the homeland, adding that the restoration of monuments to honour the heroes of the second world war had been an important symbol of Hungary’s transition to democracy.

The declaration of the memorial day for Hungarian heroes at the turn of the millennium, he said, meant that the country would again pay tribute to its heroes and appreciate the thousand-year journey taken by its soldiers in defence of the homeland.

He said 20th century history showed that “politicians who are stupid enough to dream of war and refuse to listen to the sober voices of the people and soldiers never make the right decision”.

“It is from here, by the graves of the heroes who died for the homeland, that we say to them that we Hungarians don’t want war, but peace; not dead heroes, but living men, husbands and fathers,” he said.

Hungary’s parliament passed the law on the memorial day honouring Hungarian heroes on July 19, 2001.

 

A plenary session of the European Parliament - Photo: europarl.europa.eu

Menczer: Decision between war and peace the top issue in EP election

The most important question that will be decided in the European parliamentary election is whether Europe will go to war or there will be peace, Tamas Menczer, the communications director of the ruling Fidesz-Christian Democrat alliance, said on Sunday.

Menczer told public broadcaster Kossuth Radio that those who said this was not the most important question were lying.

“Although the left says the war isn’t the most important issue in Europe today, that’s because they’re pro-war and don’t want to talk about this,” he said.

“Those who are pro-war gobble up those who are weak, as can be seen in Germany,” Menczer said, pointing out that Germany had started out by sending only helmets to the war, but today they were sending tanks and wanted conscription.

Menczer cited Germany’s defence minister as suggesting the introduction of conscription, adding that Manfred Weber, the head of the European People’s Party, wanted to introduce it at the EU level. Other German politicians, he said, were saying that conscription should also apply to women.

The communications director said the Hungarian prime minister needed to defend the country’s peace “one negotiation at a time”. This, he added, was only possible if people expressed clear support for peace and Viktor Orban in the June 9 election.

Menczer said the two conditions for stopping the “common European ship” he said was “heading towards war at enormous speed” were the EP elections and the US presidential election in November. He added that it was becoming increasingly clear to people in every European country “that what is happening is not in their interest”.

He said that if other European countries also sent pro-peace politicians to the EP and if Donald Trump won the US presidential election, there would be a chance “to stop this pro-war trend”.

Klara Dobrev at the plenary session of the European Parliament

DK calls on parliament to initiate removal of President Sulyok from office

Klara Dobrev, who heads the party list of the Democratic Coalition-Socialists-Parbeszed alliance in the European Parliament elections, has called for parliament to start proceedings to remove President Tamas Sulyok from office.

Speaking at an online press conference on Sunday, Dobrev asked MPs of DK, Parbeszed and the Socialist Party to initiate the proceedings in Parliament along with the MPs of the other “democratic parties”.

She noted that DK had submitted all evidence to the chief prosecutor and filed a criminal complaint on suspicion of high-value fraud and abuse of office in a case involving President Sulyok, and had written to the deputy head of the Constitutional Court that Sulyok should be made to repay the salary he “unlawfully took as Constitutional Court judge due to the conflict of interest”.

If the president will not resign, she said, he could be forcibly removed from office by parliament, but initiating that procedure requires support from one-fifth of MPs.

Dobrev noted that her party had already started collecting the signatures and they were waiting to see how ruling Fidesz would vote at the end of the procedure.

 

Photo: police.hu

Body of sixth victim in Veroce boat accident recovered

The body of the sixth victim in a boat accident that happened on the River Danube at Veroce last weekend has been recovered, police said on Facebook on Sunday.

The man’s body was discovered near Szigetujfalu (on Csepel Island), the Budapest Police Headquarters (BRFK) said.

In the accident the victims’ boat collided with a cruise ship. One of the boat’s eight passengers managed to swim ashore, six died and one is still missing.

The cruise ship’s captain, a Czech national, was detained on suspicion of failing to provide help to the boat after the collision.

An investigation has found that the helmsman of the boat was drunk, steering the boat zig-zagging across the river, and straight in the direction of the ship. Before hitting the ship the boat took a sharp turn but a collision could not be avoided, the ship crushing the much smaller vessel, the police said.