Photo: MTI

Novak inaugurated as president

Katalin Novak was inaugurated as Hungary's new president in a ceremony in front of Parliament on Saturday.

In her inaugural address, Novak underscored her responsibility to show the country what her homeland and compatriots meant to her and to express her views “on our shared life and place in the world”.

“We are here together in the heart of Europe, the nation’s capital, the middle of the Carpathian Basin, in the nation’s main public square, but we are also together in our intent and desire to create a brighter, more peaceful, richer and more secure life for Hungarians in the 21st century after the decades that led up to the moral crisis of the 20th century,” the president said.

Novak said the war in Ukraine had cast a shadow over the lives of Hungarians. The initial shock that came from the attack on Ukraine had to be followed by immediate but well-thought-out long-term responses from Hungary as well, she said. When the first groups of refugees arrived in Hungary on February 25, Hungarians rushed to their aid without hesitation, she added. Since then, some 700,000 refugees have crossed into Hungary, Novak said, adding that Hungarians had collected hundreds of millions of forints’ worth of donations, provided care for the wounded, sent food to those who stayed home and provided shelter, food, jobs and schooling for families.

Hungary passed the test in humanity with flying colours, she said, adding that the country also needed to know what its response was to the war and what its interests were.

Condemning Russia’s aggression, Novak said Hungary would “forever say no to any ambition to restore the Soviet Union”. Hungarians want peace, she said, demanding an investigation into and punishment of war crimes.

Hungary is not neutral, Novak said, adding that “we stand on the side of the innocent victims and justice.” Hungary fulfils its obligations stemming from its membership in the European Union and NATO, she said.

Hungary will not give up its sovereignty and supports Ukraine joining the community of European countries, she said. Hungary is prepared to make sacrifices for peace and does not block its allies from making sacrifices, either, but it will not agree to decisions that demand sacrifices from Hungarians that are greater than the amount of pain they would inflict on Russia, Novak said.

The president offered to mediate in the interest of the resumption of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, and expressed her support for the interests of Ukraine’s ethnic Hungarian community.

Novak vowed to work to ensure that Hungarians are understood and respected, saying it was a testament to the work done over the past decade that Hungarians could again “live with their heads held high” and could view the world looking out for Hungarian interests. “Hungarian self-confidence, identity and national pride — which had been lacking for a long time — have returned.”

“Let’s preserve and safeguard our national pride and make sure that national pride does not become national arrogance, but that it does not turn into globalist cowardice, either,” she said.

Novak called on the members of the new parliament to respect the trust that has been given to them and to respect the constitutional framework of legislation.

She noted that lawmakers will elect the prime minister on Monday, who will then soon appoint the members of the new government. Novak said that as a citizen of Hungary, she expects those in charge of the executive branch to preserve the security of the Hungarian people.

Novak said that as president she would strengthen Hungarians in the values based on Christianity, encourage them to have children and raise them in loving homes, support the protection of conceived human life and families and encourage them to respect each other and defend the weak.

She vowed to speak out in favour of helping young people start families, raise their children and take care of the elderly.

“Let’s protect the order of creation and the created world,” Novak said, underlining the importance of supporting large families, stay-at-home parents, adoptive parents and single parents.

Saturday’s ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Speaker of Parliament Laszlo Kover and other senior officials.

Novak was elected head of state by parliament on March 10. She is the sixth president since the 1989/90 change of political system.

In honour of Novak’s inauguration, the presidential Sandor Palace opened its doors to the public on Saturday afternoon.

Visitors were given a chance to get a closer look at several of the palace’s rooms, including the so-called Round Salon, the Small Empire Salon, the Gobelin Hall, the Maria Theresa Salon, the Tea Salon and the presidential meeting room, and could also walk out to the terrace.

Visitors also got to see where the Hungarian head of state receives their foreign counterparts and where ambassadors present their credentials. They also had a chance to look at the paintings and other objects in the palace, and could take photos.

By early evening, some 5,500 people had visited the building, according to the Sandor Palace’s communications directorate.

Photo: MTI

Another renewed Budapest metro section reopens

A central stretch of Budapest's Metro 3, covering Kalvin Square, Corvin, and Semmelweis Klinikak, reopened on Saturday.

The opening of the latest section means that service now runs between Kobanya-Kispest and Kalvin Square along the metro line’s southern section.

Addressing the inauguration of the new section, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony said the upgrade of the metro line spanned multiple city administrations, was a matter outside of partisan politics and was a shared issue for the entire country.

Karacsony thanked the European Union and the Hungarian government for their support for the project, adding that he intended to carry on the dialogue with the government about the next metro upgrades.

Istvan Tarlos, the prime minister’s commissioner in charge of the development of national transport and public services infrastructure and former mayor of Budapest, noted that Metro 3 was Hungary’s busiest traffic route and that the renovation of the line had started in 2017.

Tarlos said the project was the shared achievement of two city administrations and the government.

Kossuth Square, Cegléd, in the first half of the 1970s. Photo Fortepan-Tamás Urbán

Weekly Fortepan – The untold success story of the cyclists in the countryside

A little Amsterdam on the Great Hungarian Plain

In the minds of most Hungarians, bicycle riding is associated with the Netherlands or Denmark. In fact, it has a long tradition in Hungary, too, and – thanks to the cyclists of the countryside – Hungary is one of the top bicycle-riding countries in the European Union. In the Southern Great Plain region, every third adult uses a bicycle for transportation. Written by Ákos Bereczky, micromobilty expert.

The above is the introduction to the latest article in the English-language blog by the Fortepan online repository of Hungarian photographs, and the full text with many more photos can be seen here.

The Fortepan digital archive collects and shares Hungarian photographs taken from 1900 to 1990, and currently contains 156,000 pictures. The collection, which does not exist in physical form, was launched in 2010. The archive comes under a Creative Commons licence and the richly illustrated series of articles is free for anyone to use, with due credit.

Fortepan now has an English edition of its weekly blog Heti Fortepan. The latter, in Hungarian, was launched in 2020 in professional partnership with the Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center. The English-language Weekly Fortepan will be a selection of the Heti Fortepan series. Every second Wednesday morning an article in English is being published at hetifortepan.capacenter.hu/en. The earlier articles can also be seen at this link.

The brigade starts off to the fields by bicycle in Kunszentmiklós in the second half of the 1940s. Photo Fortepan-Márton Ernő Kovács

The archive, which is mainly supported by donations, is run by 10-15 editors working on a voluntary basis, and they try to decipher the content of the images on the FortePan megfejtések forum.

The collection is based on 5000 images collected since the 1980s from Budapest junk clearances. Over the past decade more than 700 donors have offered their photographs to the archive. At first it was mainly families but later photo documentation from companies and professional photographers also found their way onto Fortepan.

Fortepan volunteers simply digitise the images and return them to the donors. Fortepan is an edited archive, and about a third of the images received are uploaded, with editor Miklós Tamási looking for the “meaningful” ones.

The archive is named after the Fortepan negative film produced by the former Forte factory in Vác, which was very popular in Hungary. The blog is edited by Tamási and István Virágvölgyi, curator of the Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center.

On the main street of Mosonmagyaróvár, 1913. Photo Fortepan-Attila Jurányi

 

Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center

Nagymező utca 8, District VI, Budapest

Website: https://capacenter.hu/en/

Email: info@capacenter.hu

Tel.: (06-1) 413-1310

Illustration – Photo: Origo

LMP calls for Budapest congestion charge

The green LMP party wants the rapid implementation of strong measures to reduce car traffic in Budapest, and advocates the introduction of a congestion charge as well as a car-free embankment on the Pest side of the city, a party lawmaker said on Friday.

Bernadett Bakos said the partial closure to car traffic along the embankment was a half-hearted solution, and she called for whole of the banks of the Danube in Pest to be made pedestrian- and bike-friendly.

She also rejected the Budapest mayor’s insistence that the congestion charge would be untimely, adding that Gergely Karacsony’s had made the charge a plank of his election manifesto. “It would be high time for at least one impact study, you would think,” she said.

The charge should be graduated to reflect when congestion and air pollution are higher, and revenues raised should be used for public transport, Bakos said. Also, a plan is needed to dampen traffic throughout the city, she added.

She noted that a congestion charge was temporarily introduced in Stockholm only to be confirmed later by a referendum.

Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: Government continues to support Hungarian companies’ expansion abroad

The government continues to support the expansion of Hungarian companies abroad, as a means to boost economic cooperation with neighbouring countries, Peter Szijjarto, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said in Miercurea Ciuc (Csikszereda), in central Romania, on Friday.

Szijjarto spoke at the cornerstone-laying ceremony of a new plant and office complex of water industry company CONTROLSOFT-AUTOMATIKA. The 486 million forint (EUR 1.3m) investment is supported by a 290 million forint government grant, and will create 45 new jobs, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The new facility will highlight the success of the government’s strategy to support Hungarian companies’ investments abroad, he said. So far, 52 companies have received government support totalling at 73 billion forints, which has fostered 144 billion forints’ worth of investments, he said. As far as Hungarian investors in Romania are concerned, the government has supported 15 companies with 25 billion forints to carry out projects worth 60 billion forints, he said.

Szijjarto said that Hungarian-Romanian relations had witnessed several records over the past few years. Hungarian investments in Romania, for instance, have recently topped 2 billion euros, he said, adding that bilateral trade has jumped by 20 percent to nearly 10 billion euros, with 6 billion euros generated by Hungarian exports.

Hungarian communities in Romania and Romanians living in Hungary are the backbone of that success, he said.

Meanwhile, the investment is another step in handling the challenges facing both countries, Szijjarto said. “The two countries’ successes in environmental protection would be hard to imagine separately.”

Barna Tanczos, Romania’s environmental, water management and forestry minister, called Hungarian support for investments in Romania “extremely important”, and a token of even closer ties between the two countries. A water purifying technology is especially important as “Romania is currently not treating water at its real value,” he said.

Photo: MTI

EC spokesman says oil embargo still on the table

Szazadveg: Brussels oil embargo plan unpopular among public

Three-quarters of respondents would not support Hungary shutting off crude oil and natural gas deliveries from Russia under pressure from the US and the EU, while 21 percent would not oppose the measure, according to a fresh survey by the Szazadveg Foundation.

The foundation canvassed the views off 1,000 people in May regarding the economic consequences of the sanctions imposed on Russia in response to the war in Ukraine.

Rejection of the proposed phased embargo on Russian energy resources traversed “traditional party lines”, the survey said.

A majority (51 percent) of the sympathisers of the opposition alliance, 58 percent of the opposition Two-Tailed Dog party, and 91 percent of the radical Mi Hazank (Our Homeland) party opposed Hungary banning oil and gas deliveries from Russia.

“On the issue of the oil embargo, the ruling parties represent the opinion of the majority of opposition voters,” Szazadveg said.

Fully 89 percent of respondents said sanctions against Russia harmed the EU and its economy. Some 10 percent said the sanctions had no meaningful impact on the European economy, Szazadveg said.

EC spokesman says oil embargo still on the table

A spokesman for the European Commission has confirmed for news channel M1 that the European Union’s executive body is standing by its plan to introduce an embargo on Russian oil.

The public television broadcaster had asked for comment on a report by Politico early Friday suggesting the proposed oil embargo could be removed from the EU’s sixth sanctions package because of a possible veto by Hungary.

Hungary’s government has said it will support the embargo only if crude deliveries by pipeline are exempted.

Hungary gets most of its oil via pipeline from Russia, and the country’s main refinery is technically reliant on Russian crude.

Prime minister Viktor Orbán – Photo: PMO

DK criticises incoming government over lack of education, health-care, environment ministries

Orbán concludes talks on forming government

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has concluded talks on forming Hungary's next cabinet, the PM's press chief said. Orbán structured the new government and chose its ministers with a view to resolving the challenges facing the country, Bertalan Havasi, said.

Zsolt Semjen will continue as Deputy Prime Minister and will take on the role of minister responsible for policies for Hungarian communities abroad and policies for national minorities and church relations as well as church diplomacy.

Istvan Nagy and Sandor Pinter will stay on as minister of agriculture and interior minister, respectively.

Janos Lazar will oversee a new ministry, that of construction and investment.

Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky will take over the defence ministry.

Judit Varga will continue to lead the justice ministry.

Janos Csak will lead a new cultural and innovation ministry.

Peter Szijjarto is staying on as minister of foreign affairs and trade, and Antal Rogan will continue as head of the cabinet office.

Gergely Gulyas will carry on heading the prime minister’s office, while Mihaly Varga will continue to lead the finance ministry.

Laszlo Palkovics will head the ministry of technology and industry, while former deputy central bank governor Marton Nagy will take on the mantle of minister for economic development.

Former European commissioner Tibor Navracsics will lead a new ministry for regional development and the utilisation of EU funds.

Orbán earlier said: “A decade of dangers is on our doorstep,” Havasi noted, adding that the war in Ukraine has driven prices up across Europe and looks like triggering a serious energy crisis. Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic has not fully disappeared, he said.

DK criticises incoming government over lack of education, health-care, environment ministries

Gergely Arato, the deputy group leader of the opposition Democratic Coalition (DK), on Friday criticised Viktor Orban’s incoming cabinet which he said “no longer keeps up appearances by maintaining ministries for education, health care and the environment”.

In his statement, Arato said it transpired from the list of names that there would be no ministries assigned to education, health care, welfare and environmental protection, areas he said were deemed “unnecessary” by the new government.

 

Photo: Flickr

Construction output growth slows to 10.5 percent

Hungarian construction sector output grew by an annual 10.5 percent in March, slowing from an increase of 38.5 percent in the previous month, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said on Friday.

Building segment output rose by 10.6 percent, while civil engineering output was up 11.4 percent.

Overall, construction sector output was worth 521.8 billion forints (EUR 1.36bn) in March, with the building segment making up 68 percent of the total.

Photo: bayerconstruct.hu

NBH deputy governor: Hungary economy robust

Hungary's economy is robust, with first-quarter growth estimated over 8 percent, which could put full-year growth around 4 percent, Barnabas Virag, deputy governor of the National Bank of Hungary, said on Thursday.

While the tight monetary policy remains, it is moving from the “aggressive” phase to the “gradual”, Virag told the Bankszektor 2022 conference organised by business daily Vilaggazdasag.

Virag augured a “protracted” fight against inflation and said CPI could peak in the third quarter.

He said average annual inflation could be “around 9-10 percent” this year.

At a monthly policy meeting late in April, the central bank’s rate-setters had put average annual inflation “in the upper third” of the 7.5-9.8 percent forecast in the NBH’s latest quarterly Inflation Report.

Hungary’s year-on-year CPI rose to 9.5 percent in April.

Photo: Flickr

Socialist MEP calls for new post-pandemic recovery plan

Istvan Ujhelyi, MEP of the opposition Socialists, has said the government should prepare a new plan to access the European Union's post-pandemic economic recovery funds.

In a statement sent to MTI on Thursday, Ujhelyi noted that the European Commission had not granted its approval to the government’s earlier plan, adding that “neither the document’s content nor its passage in lack of broad consultations met [the commission’s] criteria”. He also added that the EU’s reservations concerning the rule of law in Hungary had also contributed to the EC’s decision to withhold Hungary’s recovery funding.

According to Ujhelyi, a new plan should focus on efforts to facilitate aid to make homes energy-efficient, while the government should introduce food tickets for the poor, and make instant developments in health care “with regard to human resources in the first place”.

“I expect the government to finalise its new plan following deep and meaningful consultations with local governments and professional organisations,” Ujhelyi said.