Monthly Archives: June 2012

New obstacles to negotiations with the IMF?

After studying the reports of the last few days on the impending IMF negotiations, I’m coming to the conclusion that the situation is not so simple as Mihály Varga, the man in charge of the negotiations, tried to convey. Varga claimed yesterday that the start of the negotiations depends only on “synchronizing the dates and plane schedules” among the negotiating partners. This announcement followed the receipt of the European Central Bank’s reactions to the amended law on the Hungarian National Bank that, according to Varga, gave the green light to … Read the rest

Another “peacock dance”?

Every time either a Hungarian government official or a spokesman is asked about the reasons for the government’s sluggishness in fulfilling the requests of the European Commission, the European Central Bank, or the recommendations of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe the answer goes something like this: “We immediately responded and fulfilled 99% of the requests, but then these organizations came up with a new set of demands. They are the ones who don’t want to settle these issues.”

Of course, the truth is quite different. It is … Read the rest

“National bonding” the Hungarian way

Until yesterday I didn’t even know that the Hungarian parliament has a twelve-member committee  that busies itself with something called “nemzeti összetartozás” (national belonging/bonding). So, I decided to find out what this committee is all about. It wasn’t a great surprise to learn that it was the brainchild of the Fidesz parliamentary majority. It was on December 23, 2010, the last session of  parliament that year, that the decision was made to set up a committee to deal with issues concerning the Hungarian minorities in the neighboring countries.

The chairman … Read the rest

“The trap of silence or the aftermath of the Nyirő affair”

Today I began my day by reading Attila Ara-Kovács’s latest article in Magyar Narancs where he has a column, “Diplomáciai jegyzetek” (Diplomatic notes). Ara-Kovács is originally from Transylvania. He was born in Nagyvárad/Oradea and graduated from the Babeş-Bólyai University in Kolozsvár/Cluj. He was among those who began the first Hungarian-Romanian samizdat publication entitled Ellenpontok (Counterpoints). He has been living in Hungary since 1983 where he joined the handful of dissidents who voiced their opposition to the one-party system. It was this group that eventually established SZDSZ (Szabad Demokraták Szövetsége). Ara-Kovács … Read the rest

Church and state: public versus parochial schools

I would like to spend a little time on the sorry state of Hungarian education, which is in the midst of a complete make-over.

I don’t want to go into the details of this so-called educational reform. Suffice it to say that critics claim that Hungarian education is heading backwards, to the time prior to the 1984 educational reform. In that year the rigid Hungarian educational system was loosened and teachers received quite a bit of freedom to adjust the curriculum to the needs of the pupils. The current reform … Read the rest

Israeli-Hungarian rift: Is someone lying?

I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to dwell any further on the Horthy cult and the inclusion of antisemitic writers in the core curriculum of Hungarian high schools. There are many other subjects that need attention or are interesting, but the controversy over the rehabilitation of the three or four writers with right-radical or Nazi views simply doesn’t want to go away. In fact, the upheaval surrounding the case is growing; by now it has brought about a serious diplomatic rift.

First there was only a protest on the … Read the rest

Introducing László L. Simon, poet, politician, viticulturist

I never cease to be amazed at Hungarian politicians’ capacity for multitasking. They are capable of amazing feats. For example, there is Lajos Kósa, the mayor of Debrecen (population over 200,000), who is a full time mayor, a full time member of parliament, and who holds an important position in the Fidesz party apparatus. And, in his spare time, he managed to create a worldwide financial panic (mind you, a mini one). Recall what happened in the summer of 2010 when he announced the imminent collapse of the Hungarian economy.… Read the rest