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Tag: János Áder

Right Before Leaving Office, Áder Strips Ukrainian of Hungarian Citizenship

One week before President János Áder ended his term in office, he revoked the citizenship of Vasily Lazarchuk at the recommendation of Gergely Gulyás, Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister’s Office, reports mfor, citing the Official Gazette.

This wasn’t the first such decision by the now-former head of state, who stripped several Ukrainians of their Hungarian citizenship in his last few weeks in office. There was no reason provided for the decisions in any of these cases, writes the news portal. [HVG]

With Áder Leaving as President, Law He Objected to Will Be Voted on Again

Departing President János Áder hardly ever objected to whatever the government wanted during the ten years of his presidency, writes Telex. But an amendment to the Water Management Act was an issue over which Áder not only took a contrary position for years, but also was able to prevent the government’s will from prevailing.

The government tried to amend the law in 2017 to make it easier for people to drill wells, permitting well drilling to a depth of 80 meters without having to obtain authorization or notify anyone as long as the well only provided water for household use.

However, Áder thought the amendment would endanger groundwater resources, so instead of signing it, he sent the amendment to the Constitutional Court, which determined that the law was unconstitutional.

The government tried again in 2020 with an amendment that experts determined was much more serious than in 2017, but again Áder refused to sign it.

The amendment challenged by Áder has not become law since, but the original 2017 bill that Áder sent to the Constitutional Court has now reappeared on the website of the National Assembly, for the third time, under a new issue number.

But now, Áder only has a few days left as President of Hungary, with Katalin Novák to assume the role on May 10. [Telex]

Áder Believes He Did a Good Job as President

János Áder, whose term as President of Hungary will end on May 9, gave a farewell interview to Magyar Nemzet, telling the Hungarian daily that he will depart with a “calm heart,” believing that he has fulfilled his main duties in the role.

When asked about “having to face continuous ‘opposition provocation’ to prove that he truly represented every Hungarian,” Áder responded:

Everyone is hurt by insults and undeserved attacks. But a politician only has to pay attention to whether the decision he made is proper from a humane, moral, and legal point of view. In 2012, when I was elected, a key part of my speech in the National Assembly was that I would undertake to represent Hungarian interests and values. Looking back over the last ten years, I can say with a calm heart, on behalf of myself and my colleagues, that we have fulfilled this commitment.

[Népszava]

President Áder’s trip to Poland reportedly canceled over Ukraine war

picture of János Áder

President János Áder’s (pictured) plans to travel to Poland on March 23 have been canceled, reports Azonnali.

The Hungarian head of state was going to travel to the town of Bochnia, southern Poland, for Polish-Hungarian Friendship Day to unveil a statue of St. Kinga, daughter of Hungarian King Béla IV, together with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda and their respective wives, Anita Herczegh and Agata Kornhauser-Duda.

The news site has learned that not only have the organizers canceled the event, but also that the Poles had not received an official request from the Office of the President of Hungary (KEH) to allow János Áder’s armed bodyguards to cross the Polish border, suggesting that Áder and his wife won’t even be going to Poland.

Azonnali contacted the Office of the President of Hungary on the matter, but has not received a reply.

However, sources informed Azonnali that the event was officially “postponed” due to the war, with one of the main reasons that Andrzej Duda did not want to appear publicly with his Hungarian colleague at such a high-profile event because of Hungary’s pro-Russian stance.

In 2007, the Hungarian Parliament and the Polish Sejm both declared March 23 the Day of Polish-Hungarian Friendship. Since then, both countries have observed the day, with KEH describing it in the following way:

Celebrated in both countries, the two nations celebrate their close thousand-year relationship, unparalleled in many respects, with large-scale events attended by the heads of state in different places every year.

While personal meetings were canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, a virtual commemoration was held in 2021 by János Áder and Andrzej Duda, as well as by Anita Herczegh and Agata Kornhauser-Duda.

Even the local news portal Bochnianin.pl has an article dated February 22, prior to the outbreak of the war, on planned “large-scale celebrations” and the unveiling of the statue of St. Kinga with the expected attendance of the two presidential couples.

[Azonnali]

Katalin Novák viewed as more divisive than current president

picture of Katalin Novák

The public sees Katalin Novák (pictured) as more divisive than the current head of state, János Áder, reports Népszava based on a new poll by the Publicus Institute. In addition, three-quarters of Hungarians prefer a president that is independent and non-partisan.

Governing party Fidesz has nominated Novák as its candidate to replace departing President János Áder, and the former minister for families is expected to easily win the March 10 vote in Parliament to be Hungary’s next head of state. For its part, the united opposition also announced earlier this week that its nominee for the post was economist Péter Róna.

The Publicus poll also revealed that only 18% of the population think it is acceptable for Hungary’s president to be a faithful supporter of a single party. However, right-wing voters are much more tolerant of this notion, with 42% of them approving of it, while nearly all opposition supporters reject it. Even 83% of undecided party voters do not agree that the head of state should be strongly partisan.

Half of the respondents consider current President János Áder to be a divisive or slightly divisive politician, but 40% of them claim he has perfomed his duties in a way that have promoted unity. However, opposition sympathizers have a more mixed opinion of Áder, and practically none of MSZP’s voters evaluated his work positively, according to the poll.

[HVG]

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro expected in Budapest today

picture of Jair Bolsonaro

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (pictured) is making his first trip to Hungary today, Bertalan Havasi, the Prime Minister’s press chief, told news agency MTI on Tuesday. While in Budapest, the Brazilian head of state will hold talks with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán after meeting with President János Áder.

According to Havasi, the President of Brazil would be arriving in Budapest on Thursday morning. He first plans to lay a wreath at Heroes’ Square, then pay a visit to President János Áder in the Alexander Palace.

Following this, Jair Bolsonaro and Viktor Orbán will hold talks at the Prime Minister’s office in the Carmelite Monastery and release a joint statement afterwards, said the head of the Prime Minister’s Press Office.

Although this is Bolsonaro’s first trip to Hungary, it’s not the first meeting between the two men, as the Hungarian Prime Minister was one of the few European leaders who attended Jair Bolsonaro’s presidential inauguration on January 1, 2018.

While Viktor Orbán and Jair Bolsonaro may share several similar views, they are different in one key area: unlike Orbán, the Brazilian president is famously skeptical of the coronavirus epidemic. Bolsonaro has not been vaccinated, and has had several posts and videos removed from Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube for spreading false information, such as the claim that the vaccine causes AIDS.

It was also reported last month that President Bolsonaro would be visiting Budapest directly from Moscow, where he planned to meet with President Vladimir Putin.

[HVG]

Hungary’s parliamentary elections to be held on April 3

picture of Hungarian ballot box

President János Áder announced on his website today that he had chosen April 3 as the date for Hungary’s parliamentary elections. As he wrote:

32 years ago, Hungary became an independent, democratic country after its first free elections. Thanks go to all who have taken part in rebuilding the nation.

This year, for the ninth time, the citizens of Hungary with the right to vote are free to decide who they will entrust with the management of our common affairs.

The Basic Law and the Electoral Procedure Act contain clear provisions on the date by which the President of Hungary can set a general election to decide Members of Parliament.

Based on this statutory mandate, I hereby set a general election for Members of Parliament at the earliest possible date, April 3, 2022.

The National Electoral Office (NVI) issued a news release on the announcement as well:

For the first time in Hungary, around 8.2 million voters will be able to express their opinion in referendums held at the same time as parliamentary elections. The Office will once again provide the electorate with non-partisan information, and will soon update the Election Information System and the election information website. From the start of the campaign until the end of the election, valasztas.hu will be available for anyone who wants to visit it. NVI also encourages voters to register as a member of the vote counting committee. In this way, everyone will be able to individually contribute to keeping the elections pure and making them run smoothly and transparently, which is in our common interest.

On Instagram, Viktor Orbán announced: “We’ll be there!”

Earlier in the day, news had appeared of a seemingly-official document which indicated that the election would be on April 3. NVI claimed that it was not an official document, but just a rough draft with the first possible date of the election on it.

[444]

Hungarian election will be held on Apr 3, says opposition internal document

picture of Hungarian ballot

Debreciner got hold of a document prepared for internal use by the opposition coalition which predicts that President János Áder will set April 3 as the date of the Hungarian parliamentary election.

If this turns out to be the case, then Áder will have to set the date for the Hungarian election sometime between January 3-23, and the campaign will officially begin on February 12, with nominees beginning to gathering the required number of recommendations. These will be collected until February 25, and the list of party-nominated candidates will have to end on the following day.

Hungary’s Fundamental Law stipulates that parliamentary elections must be held in April or May in the fourth year following the previous election. According to the Electoral Procedure Act, the election must be held on a Sunday, but may not fall on a public holiday nor the day immediately before or after.

This means that April 17 is definitely out because of Easter, as is May 1 due to Labor Day. As a result, the Hungarian election must take place on April 3, 10, 24, or May 8, 15, 22, 29.

[Debreciner]

Orbán nominates Katalin Novák to be President of Hungary

picture of Katalin Novák

The guessing game in the media is over: Viktor Orbán has announced that Fidesz-KDNP would be nominating Katalin Novák (pictured) as the next President of the Republic.

The final government information briefing of the year was held on Tuesday. Although normally held by Chancellor Minister Gergely Gulyás, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Zoltán Kovács, State Secretary for International Communication and Relations, also attended the briefing.

The Prime Minister rarely appears before the press, notes Azonnali, but it soon became apparent why he decided to take part in today’s briefing.

Answering a question from ATV, Orbán confirmed that the ruling Fidesz-KDNP parties would nominate Katalin Novák, Minister without Portfolio for Family Affairs, as their candidate for President of the Republic, replacing current President János Áder.

Hungary’s Fundamental Law states that the head of state can hold a maximum of two terms in office. Áder’s term will expire on May 10, but his successor must be elected 30-60 days before the end of his term. This means that a new president must be elected before Parliamentary elections are held in April 2022.

The President of the Republic, therefore, will be elected by the current Parliament. A minimum of 40 deputies must first nominate one person, who is then elected by a quasi-half majority – if this person does not get a two-thirds majority in the first round, a simple majority is enough in the second round.

Katalin Novák has already accepted the nomination, reports Magyar Hang. As she wrote on a Facebook post:

Representing Hungary, serving the entire Hungarian nation – I am preparing for this challenging task with faith, soul and heart. I respectfully accept the nomination to be President of the Republic. I will stay the same as I am.

In recent days, the press has speculated on the names of László Trócsányi, former Minister of Justice and current MEP, and House Speaker László Kövér as possible presidential candidates. Orbán has now put an end to the speculation by nominating Katalin Novák as Hungary’s second woman presidential candidate, after Katalin Szili.

[Azonnali, Magyar Hang]

Áder officially accepts Völner’s resignation as State Secretary in corruption affair

picture of Pál Völner

President János Áder has formally accepted the resignation of Pál Völner (pictured) as State Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, in connection with the bribery case against him, reports Index.

I find that, with respect to his resignation, Dr. Pál Völner’s mandate as Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice is hereby terminated, effective December 8, 2021.

-reads the resolution, which was countersigned by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Pál Völner announced his resignation on Tuesday, December 7, after Péter Polt, the chief prosecutor, recommended that his immunity be suspended due to an ongoing investigation into charges of bribery in an official position and other crimes.

In a statement from his legal representation that day, the Fidesz politician denied committing any crimes and said he had performed his duties as state secretary and ministerial commissioner fairly and in accordance with the law, but accepted the political consequences of the case.

According to the legal case against him, Pál Völner regularly received occasional payments of 2-5 million Ft. (US $6,200-$15,400) from the President of the Hungarian Chamber of Judicial Officers over a long period of time in exchange for accepting cases at the President’s discretion, thereby abusing his supervisory, official, and administrative powers.

Not long after that, Fidesz indicated that it would vote to suspend Pál Völner’s Parliamentary immunity, as the politician would need to clear himself in public.

The Dialogue party proposed convening the Parliamentary Immunity Committee on the matter, and the opposition has called for the resignation of Justice Minister Judit Varga as well.

In addition, HVG claims that the National Defense Service has collected thousands of pages of evidence related to the criminal case against Völner, largely taken from surveillance on him.

[Index, HVG]

President Áder’s foundation for protecting the climate buys swank villa worth 1.5 billion Ft.

picture of Buda villa

President János Áder’s foundation to fight climate change bought a 1,500-square-meter villa on Pasaréti Road in Buda for at least 1.5-2 billion Ft. (US $4.6-6.2 million), news channel RTL Klub uncovered.

As it turns out, Áder’s Blue Planet Foundation just recently received an annual government grant for 1.5 billion Ft., and a week ago their capital fund also received a 5.5 billion Ft. (US $17.0 million) non-refundable grant.

MP Bence Tordai from Párbeszéd expressed his opinion about the purchase of the Buda villa to the station:

Taxpayer money passes through a foundation into a limited liability company, and from that point on it falls out of any meaningful controls. Something is really not right when money provided to protect the climate is used to acquire an enormous piece of real estate, and from then on it can be used for anything at all.

Gergely Gulyás was also asked about the real estate purchase at the latest Government Informational Session. The Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office told reporters that he respects the foundation’s activities, but that they would have to ask them about any specifics of the deal.

The Blue Planet Foundation told RTL that the villa was purchased for revenue-generating purposes so that they could have a steady income from renting it out, then spend the funds on sustainability-related issues. The foundation also said that the cost of purchasing the villa came from state benefits they had received over the past three years.

[Telex]

Is the Budapest “Sustainability Expo” just public relations greenwashing?

picture of János Áder

The first day of Planet Budapest 2021, a “sustainability expo and world meeting,” was held at Hungexpo on Tuesday, featuring a number of political speeches.

In his speech to the expo, Hungarian President János Áder, the chief patron of the event (pictured), talked about issues related to sustainability and climate change. He did not detail what actions he expected the state or specific industries to take, but he did praise the Orbán government for its environmental achievements.

The President said that carbon dioxide emissions in Hungary had decreased by 32% since 1990, which is higher than the EU average. Meanwhile, 70% of Hungary’s electricity is carbon-free, while the country’s land devoted to forests has doubled over the past 100 years, President Áder said.

Other speakers at the conference, which continues until December 5, included Polish President Andrzej Duda, OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann, video messages from Slovak President Zuzana Caputová and UN Secretary-General António Guterres, plus a number of Hungarian ministers and officials, who all emphasized green-friendly themes in their speeches.

However, Greenpeace was apparently not impressed by the pomp and fancy speeches of the sustainability summit. The environmental action organization said that when János Áder stated the need for “action instead of PR stunts” at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, it could apply to the Hungarian government itself.

The Orbán government is trying to prove its commitment to the environment and nature with the Sustainability Expo, they said, while in practice it has acted in exactly the opposite manner over the past decade. The group even set up a separate informational website to call the government to account for its actions.

Greenpeace claims that shutting down the Ministry of the Environment in 2010 and gradually eliminating the independence of environmental and wildlife protection authorities have led to publicly-funded destruction of the environment at Lake Fertő.

The group lists other issues it has with Hungary’s commitment to sustainability: carbon dioxide emissions from transportation increased by 46% between 2013-2019, the government repurchased the climate-killing Mátra Power Plant for many tens of billions of forints, Hungary is far behind the rest of Europe in terms of air quality, area devoted to organic farming is far lower than in Slovakia, Slovenia, and Austria, and the government is a major sponsor of MOL’s plastics factory while promoting the steps it takes against plastic pollution.

Greenpeace campaign manager Katalin Rodics notes that the vast majority of the Hungarian population wants a truly environmentally-friendly government from 2022 onwards, acccording to the group’s research, and is looking forward to seeing environmental issues addressed in Viktor Orbán’s post-2022 platform.

[Népszava]

President Áder urges action on climate in Glasgow

picture of János Áder

Glasgow is not only about raising ambitions, but also about regaining credibility, taking action and seeing visible results as soon as possible, President János Áder said at the 26th session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) in the Scottish city on Monday.

In his speech, the head of state took note of the critical nature of the situation, stating that it is our “final hour.” It is difficult to talk about successful discussions if the situation continues to deteriorate, he said, referring to the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

However, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased in the last 25 years, and unfortunately also since the conclusion of the Paris Convention on Climate Protection, János Áder added.

“The results of science and the signals of nature are clear, we must act,” the head of state said in his speech in Glasgow on Monday night.

He also said that Hungary would increase its solar power plant capacity from 3,000 megawatts by the end of the year to 6,500 megawatts by 2030 and use only electric buses in urban public transport from 2030. The country will also continuously change its fleet and implement a significant re-forestation program.

“In a month’s time, we are going to organize a Sustainability Expo and World Meeting in Budapest to not only talk about the importance of raising ambitions, but also present the solutions, innovations and technologies needed to reach our common goal,” concluded János Áder in his speech in Glasgow on Monday evening.

[Magyar Hang]