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Latest News – May 19, 2022

Hungary sending troops to Mali

Speaking in Rwanda, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó announced yesterday that Hungary will be sending 62 troops to the African country of Mali, stating that the European Union has a duty to assist Africa in handling the pandemic and improving the continent’s quality of life.

The Hungarian troops will join European forces that support Mali’s army in order to strengthen regional security and deal with some of the main causes of migration from the continent. [Index]

Fidesz MP sick with Coronavirus

Fidesz Member of Parliament Zoltán Tessely shared on his Facebook page that he was sick with Covid-19, and that “in the past 54 years he had never been as sick as this.”

Tessely claimed that he had already received two vaccine shots and was considering receiving the third booster shot when he took a Covid test last Wednesday that came back positive.

The Fidesz MP further encouraged everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated, adding that those who haven’t received a vaccine shot are putting themselves in great danger. [HVG]

Karácsony: no mask mandate on public transportation, but please wear one

At an afternoon press conference, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony announced that he had requested a new mask mandate from the government, but received an answer from Interior Minister Sándor Pintér that they were still investigating the situation, writes Népszava.

As a result, the Budapest City Government is not going to require a mask mandate on public transporation in the city, but the mayor recommends that travellers wear one on subways, buses, and trams, and also when in closed spaces.

The Metropolitan Operational Body also decided today not to prohibit nursing home visitations, but are restricting visits out of the homes. Starting on November 2, those living in residences operated by the city of Budapest can only visit family members, and upon their return have to go to an isolation room and receive a negative Covid test to be able enter their rooms again.

In addition, mask mandates will come into effect at two kindergartens in the capital for staff and parents of the children.

Hungary signs a long-term partnership agreement with Huawei

Innovation and Technology Minister László Palkovics signed a long-term letter of intent for partnership with Huawei at a conference organized by the company in Budapest. The agreement with the Chinese technology company covers the digitalization of education, the development of 5G and landline networks, and smart city solutions.

In a press release, Palkovics emphasized that the most important technologies from Hungary’s point of view are digitalization and “green” technologies that improve energy efficiency.

Palkovics believes that battery and energy storage technology will be of crucial importance in the future, and stated that Hungary has set a goal of being Europe’s second largest manufacturer of such technology after Germany. [444]

National Election Office sends 770,000 notices to voters outside Hungary’s borders

The National Election Office has begun mailing out notices to 770,000 voters located outside the borders of Hungary, informing them that they will be eligible to vote in the upcoming national elections next year, any possible referenda, and future European parliamentary elections.

The office warns these external voters that they will have to register with the office before they will can vote by mail.

Based on previous registrations, currently more than 408,000 names appear in the central voting register. [HVG]

Jobbik claims Fidesz MP Simonka was drunk in Parliament

Fidesz Member of Parliament György Simonka nodded off in the middle of a speech in Parliament and had to be led out of the chamber by another representative from the ruling party.

Jobbik accused Simonka of being intoxicated, but a Fidesz media statement provided to Telex stated that the sleepy MP simply “didn’t feel well, and was allowed to go home.”

Notably, the statement didn’t mention whether or not Simonka had had any alcohol.

As to whether Simonka was drunk or not, you can judge for yourself by watching the video at 444.

Opposition will have a united candidate for president by Feb. 24

Lawyer György Magyar, the head of the Preparatory Committee for the Presidential Primary Elections, states that governmental opposition parties will nominate their candidates for the Hungarian head of state in November and December, prior to another primary election that will decide the eventual winner.

According to Magyar, all parties involved have agreed to the conditions of the new primary, and that the results will be published on Feburary 24. However, the lawyer does not expect the ruling Fidesz party to take note of the results of these elections. [Magyar Hang]

Government to meet with teacher unions on Nov. 3

Index reports that the Ministry of Human Resources is planning to meet with the Democratic Union of Teachers (PDSZ) and the Teachers’ Union (PSZ) on November 3 for talks to prevent a teachers’ strike. The government last met with representatives from the unions on October 13, but the talks ended without any concrete results.

The educators are calling for a wage increase as well as a lessening of their educational duties.

Health expert says Hungary needs to take action against Coronavirus

Epidemiologist János Szlávik tells state broadcaster M1 that the number of Hungarians being hospitalized due to Covid-19 continues to to increase, and that he believes that the fourth wave will peak in Hungary in November or December.

Szlávik notes that since the delta variant is more infectious than previous variants of Coronavirus, it is hard to predict how bad it will get.

The epidemiologist urges everyone who is eligible to receive a vaccine shot, saying it reduces the chance of serious illness due to Covid by 80-90%. Regarding whether Hungary will need to introduce further restrictions, Szlávik stated that it is “absolutely certain that something needs to be done.” [HVG]

How well has Gergely Karácsony done after two years in office?

Telex takes a look at Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony’s performance in office two years after his election in 2019. The site claims that the mayor had a stong start in his first 100 days, and that by January 2021 he had completed six out of the 23 promises made during his campaign.

However, issues related to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, as well as the mayor’s unsuccessful campaign to be the joint democratic prime ministerial nominee, have led to 14 of his promises not being met yet. In particular, the article mentions that the mayor still has to work on reducing the price of rent in the capital, increasing transparency, creating a unified parking system, adjusting rent to a tenant’s income, and reducing noise pollution around Budapest airport.

Budapest may see new restrictions on visiting nursing homes, mask mandates

Budapest Deputy Mayor Ambrus Kiss told Népszava that, due to the worsening Coronavirus situation in Hungary, the Metropolitan Operational Body will make a decision today whether or not to restrict or prohibition visitation at city-run residential housing institutions, most commonly nursing homes.

The body will also investigate whether it should make mask wearing mandatory for staff who work at kindergartens in the capital, as a few districts of the city have already instituted.

Health expert: “political cowardice” to blame for Hungary not having a mask mandate

Health expert Zsombor Kunetz told RTL Híradó that due to increasing Covid-19 infections in Hungary, FFP2-type masks should be mandatory on public transportation and inside stores and shopping malls, and that “political cowardice” on the part of Budapest and government leaders is preventing it from being mandatory.

Kunetz believes that the current situation demands a new mask mandate from the Budapest city government. However, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony believes that local governments do not have the power to enact a mask mandate on their own, and requested the authority to do so 10 days ago from the Hungarian government.

Despite this, the town of Kazincbarcika has decided to implement its own mask mandate, starting today. [via HVG]

Name of reporter who was pressured by Hungarian intelligence is revealed

In a 2016 article, news portal 444 wrote that a Hungarian intelligence agency put pressure on an investigative reporter to reveal his sources, but the name of the reporter, András Dezső, was unknown until now, writes Telex.

Dezső revealed in a recent interview with Partizán that employees of the Constitutional Protection Office approached him in 2015 and asked for his sources in connection with the US visa scandal that unfolded in 2014, suggesting that in doing so he could avoid having “a bigger problem.” Despite the apparent pressure put upon him, Dezső declined to cooperate and reveal his sources.

Márki-Zay publishes the damaging documents on himself that he claims came from Fidesz

Following up from his press conference earlier today, joint opposition leader Péter Márki-Zay published the “oppo research” on him that he received from the Democratic Coalition last week.

Although large portions of the 67-page document, much of which is blacked out, had already been made public through pro-government media reports, and even included his own Wikipedia page, Telex reports on two new allegations against the Hódmezővásárhely mayor.

The first of these was a claim that Márki-Zay’s wife, an obstetrician, was responsible for the death of a infant, which the document claims was an “unexploited” area to attack the opposition leader. However, pro-government news portal Origo lost a lawsuit in connection with this claim in April and had to pay HUF 2 million as a result.

The second major claim concerns Márki-Zay’s departure to work in Canada over 20 years ago. The document claims that Márki-Zay worked for a shadowy MLM-like company in Hungary that functioned as a “money factory,” but he had to flee to Canada after the company folded. The document gives few details on any of the specifics of the alleged wrongdoing.

Far-right French leader Le Pen arrives in Budapest

444 writes that Marine Le Pen, President of France’s far-right National Rally party, has arrived in Budapest for talks with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán tomorrow. Following the talks, Orbán and LePen are expected to hold a joint press conference.

Momentum’s new president to be decided in November

Following András Fekete-Győr’s resignation as president of Momentum earlier this month, the party has decided to choose a new leader only in November, writes Index. At the moment, Anna Orosz, Momentum’s nominee for parliament in Újbuda, is the only candidate who has declared interest in the post.

After coming in last place in the first round of the primary elections, Fekete-Győr requested a vote of confidence in his leadership from a party delegation. The delegation recommended a new person at the top post, leading to Fekete-Győr’s resignation. However, the party nevertheless placed him at the top of their party list for next year’s elections.

Babis thinks we should thank Orbán for the border fence

Outgoing Czech Premier Andrej Babis praised Viktor Orbán after the conclusion of last week’s European Council summit, and believes that the Hungarian Prime Minister “should be thanked for his fight against migration” after building a fence on the Hungarian border in 2015, reports Euractiv.

Babis claimed that Orbán “was the only one protecting the Schengen area” when he built the reinforced border fence. The Czech premier also praised EU members Croatia and Bulgaria for their efforts in protecting EU borders.

Nézőpont: Karácsony would have come closer to beating Orbán than Márki-Zay

Nézőpont, a pollster often seen as favorable toward ruling party Fidesz, published a public opinion poll claiming that Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony would have performed slightly better in a general election against Prime Minister Viktor Orbán than Péter Márki-Zay, the eventual winner of the oppostion’s primary election.

However, Nézőpont concluded that Orbán could win against either candidate, and that his victory in next year’s parliamentary elections is all but guaranteed. [Telex]

Márki-Zay: Fidesz gave damaging documents on me to DK

In a press conference in his hometown of Hódmezővásárhely, joint opposition prime minister candidate Péter Márki-Zay claims that ruling party Fidesz offered damaging information on him to the Democratic Coalition (DK) in order to boost their own candidate, Klára Dobrev, during the recently-concluded primary elections.

According to Márki-Zay, DK chose not to use the damaging materials against him and instead handed them over to him. Márki-Zay plans to release the documents to the media and publish a summary of them online.

According to the Hódmezővásárhely mayor, the existence of the documents proves “on the one hand that Fidesz attempted to intervene in the opposition’s primary election process, and on the other, in what ways they are spying on people.” Márki-Zay recalled that spy software was also found on his own laptop as well on the homepage of Hódmezővásárhely City Hall in 2018. [HVG]