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Hungarian report Hungarian report
by Euro Reporter
2009-11-06 07:56:31
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Government members get new flu shot

Ministers who had not been inoculated against the deadly A/H1N1 virus received the vaccine in the presence of the media on Wednesday. Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai was inoculated on Tuesday.

Last week, some 12,500 people approached their doctors with symptoms suggesting flu, as opposed to 14,200 the week before, Health Minister Tamas Szekely said, adding that the numbers were low to declare an epidemic in Hungary. The minister said that the vaccine would be available in all pharmacies across the country on Thursday. On Tuesday, a 15-year-old boy died in a Szolnok hospital (C Hungary), who had been diagnosed with carrying the new flu virus.


Free Dem leader insists his party will vote against budget bill

The leader of Hungary's liberal Free Democrats insisted on Wednesday that his party would refuse to support the government's 2010 budget bill. In a vote on Tuesday, MPs approved the main figures of the bill which includes a budget deficit of 3.8 percent of gross domestic product. The bill's framework passed comfortably with 200 MPs voting for and 156 against.

The minority ruling Socialists need the votes of Free Democrat deputies to pass the budget; the final vote is expected to take place on November 30. Attila Retkes told a news conference that whereas the bill was in line with the key priorities of crisis-management, it would not serve the interests of poor people. He added that the bill failed to provide guarantees for job retention or creation, and planned cuts to local council budgets would create a mess in municipalities.

The Free Democrats are deeply divided. The party's parliamentary group leader, Janos Koka, supports the crisis-management measures of Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai and has said he and fellow party MPs will support the 2010 budget bill.


Hungary battles illegal migrants

At dusk, Sergeant Levente Saja stands in the open countryside and scans the horizon through binoculars. A dirt road separates a field of maize from a wide expanse of scrub and grass. "This corn makes our job a lot more difficult," he says.  The cornfield is in Hungary, a member of the European Union and part of the Schengen Zone, which stretches west to Portugal and north to Scandinavia with no internal border checks or further passport scrutiny.

The other field is in war-scarred Serbia, which is not an EU member and where the Balkan ethnic conflicts of the 1990s left the economy and much of its infrastructure in ruins.
Serbia has become one of the main land routes into the European Union for those in search of a better life but lacking the documents to enter legally. Day and night, men, women and children crawl, run, shuffle and crouch, inching their way across the fields towards Hungary. Saja and his colleagues in the Hungarian border police are tasked with stopping these illegal migrants. "You never know when they might turn up," he says.

The Hungary-Serbia border is just one more barrier on a very long journey. Many will have spent months travelling, often on foot, living in unimaginable conditions.  Saja recalls finding an Afghan man just inside the Hungarian border: "He was lying in a field, exhausted, unconscious." After receiving medical treatment, the Afghan requested political asylum, making him the responsibility of the Interior Ministry's Office of Immigration and Nationality.

Most of those apprehended on the "green border," as it is known, are Roma, or gypsies, from Serbia, and Kosovo Albanians. Africans appear periodically and in recent months the number of Afghan refugees has noticeably increased, says border police officer Major Szabolcs Revesz.  "Hungary is still not a target country for illegal immigrants," says Lieutenant Colonel Gabor Eberhardt in his office at police headquarters in the university town of Szeged, southern Hungary.

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