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20th July, 2017

NATO concerned about Russian presence in Hungary

The member states of NATO are concerned by the activity of Russian secret services in Hungary, an article by Politico claimed on Wednesday.

The article, mostly citing anonymous sources, says NATO officials do not trust Hungary and will not willingly share sensitive information with it.

The article quotes a former unnamed official at the US embassy in Budapest who says that “there is serious concern about the Russians using Hungary practically as an outpost for NATO and within EU territory”. The official claimed that in the past two years Russian activity has grown very strong in Hungary: while in 2014 and 2015 a total of 50-100 Russian secret service agents were operating on Hungarian territory, now their number exceeds 300.

While Hungarian government sources and several NATO sources laud the Hungarian contribution to joint NATO operations, informers suggest that under the surface there is but little trust in the Orban cabinet.

”Everyone thinks that Hungary has been compromised”, a western source who worked for NATO after 2010 said. The source said he had been told not to share any confidential information with Hungarians even if authorised.

A former colonel named Gyozo Zakarias said that bilateral military exchanges of information have practically ceased between Hungary and its NATO allies since 2010. Hungarian government sources meanwhile unequivocally deny that Hungary has a special relationship with the Russians. (index.hu; pestisracok.hu; 168ora.hu; napi.hu; 444.hu)
20th July, 2017

Szijjarto: Ukraine workers a solution

Labourers could primarily come from Ukraine to meet the needs of Hungarian companies, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told Inforadio on Wednesday.

The situation caused by low unemployment should also be dealt with, he added. Unemployment presents a challenge in two scenarios: when it is low and when it is high.

Seven years ago the rate of employment in Hungary stood at 12.5% and today it is 4.4%, a drop of practically one third. Economists say that this rate is very close to full employment considering fluctuation and regional differences.

He said he sees nothing wrong with companies recruiting foreigners to fill positions.

In other remarks he said the Visegrad countries may represent a common position regarding Brexit, the EU budget over the next seven years, migration, the competitive advantages of the economic policy of Central European countries and boosting global co-operation. He added that attitudes differ with respect to Russia.

“For those who belittled the value of V4 co-operation for years, I can say that no matter how many times an attempt was made to disrupt co-operation the alliance only became stronger,” he said.

On another topic he stated that Croatia and Romania still cannot ship gas to Central Europe and until the proper investment projects are implemented no American liquefied gas can be delivered to Hungary from Croatia.

Szijjarto announced the new Hungarian ambassador Laszlo Szabo will take his post in Washington at the end of the month after the US administration has indicated it is ready to receive the diplomat. (inforadio.hu; napi.hu; atv.hu)
20th July, 2017

Budapest labour shortage problematic

Fidesz mayors in Budapest reported at the open university in Baile Tusnad, Romania on Wednesday that a shortage of labour is one of the biggest problems in Budapest today.

Twenty-first District mayor Lenard Borbely said “it is possible that unemployment is only on paper but I have never come across it.” It only exists that “recently we tried to give a job to a homeless family but they did not accept it.”

Twenty-second District mayor Ferenc Karsay said there is certainly a shortage of labour, “it is not job seekers that are besieging the office, employers are asking us to organise job stock exchanges.”

Sixteenth District mayor Peter Kovacs said “there is no unemployment in Budapest, on paper there is such but in reality there is none.”

While in 2010 700,000 people were working in Budapest; the respective figure rose to 827,000 by 2016.

Central Statistics Office data show there was a 4.4% rate of unemployment in Budapest last year. (index.hu; gondola.hu; 444.hu; echotv.hu; hir.ma.hu)
20th July, 2017

Kuria okays CEO salary referendum

A referendum can decide the salary of CEOs at state-run companies as the Kuria has verified an initiative submitted by a former LMP politician.

Accordingly CEOs could not earn more than the president of the republic.

Some 200,000 signatures need to be collected for a referendum in 120 days.

Such salaries soared from January 2016 with the cabinet justifying the pay hikes as a way to enhance competitiveness. (hirtv.hu)
20th July, 2017

Jobbik MEP alleged spy questioned

Jobbik MEP Bela Kovacs on Wednesday presented himself at Budapest’s Central Investigative Prosecution General for questioning.

He told reporters that it is in his own interest to see his criminal case closed at the earliest possible time.

Kovacs is suspected of espionage and budgetary fraud. He maintained that the proceedings launched against him and Jobbik were political. His right to immunity was earlier suspended by the European Parliament.

Kovacs denied the charge of fraud and told an impromptu press conference after the questioning that he had denied the accusation of espionage. He said Fidesz had “mixed him up in the espionage case” and the situation is being used by the governing party.

In another remark he said that naturally he had met Russian diplomats as this was part of his job. Asked why he did not appear when summoned on June 23, he repeated that he had been staying in Abkhazia, where he was also being treated for blood poisoning. He said he was not able to inform the Hungarian authorities as neither mobile phones nor the internet had been functioning.

Richard Simon, deputy spokesman for the prosecution, said Kovacs is suspected of budget fraud and using forged documents but confirmed that the espionage case was not touched upon. (origo.hu; atv.hu; hvg.hu; nepszava.hu; magyarhirlap.hu; 444.hu)
20th July, 2017

Major division within the Socialist Party

There are more people in the Socialist Party who support running together for MP with the Democratic Coalition than those who accept Laszlo Botka but consider it fiction that the Democratic Coalition would accept any election alliance without party president Ferenc Gyurcsany, Magyar Hirlap has learnt.

Socialist sources unequivocally denied that there is a party “shadow cabinet” and added that such reports have also been denied by vice-president Istvan Ujhelyi, economist Zoltan Pogatsa and former EU commissioner Laszlo Andor. (magyarhirlap.hu)

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