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Hungarian report Hungarian report
by Euro Reporter
2011-01-06 09:58:19
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Opposition targets Viktor Orban

Hungary's opposition struck back at a disputed media law Wednesday, by filing a complaint against a friend of Premier Viktor Orban for what it claims were hateful comments in a recent article.   The president of the Green party (ZB), Szilard Kalmar, "filed a complaint before the media authority against journalist Zsolt Bayer," the party said on its website.   In an article published Tuesday in the daily Magyar Hirlap, Bayer had described a 1919 massacre by the extreme right in the Orgovany forest south of Budapest as a positive incident.   The victims of the massacre were sympathisers of the short-lived communist Hungarian Soviet Republic.   

"If the aim of the new media law is truly to stop incitement to hatred, then we can hope that Zsolt Bayer will be the first journalist to be punished under the law," the party noted.   "Otherwise, it means the law has a completely different goal," it said. In his article, Bayer, who has been criticized in the past for making anti-Semitic remarks, compared the sympathizers of the Hungarian Soviet Republic to current critics of Hungary's controversial media law. Among other things, he regretted that "not all (communist sympathizers) were buried in the forest of Orgovany."  In a clear anti-Semitic jibe, he also singled out "Cohen, Cohn-Bendit and Schiff" -- names that have a Jewish origin in Hungary -- among the dozens of foreign critics of the media law.  

Bayer was referring to Nick Cohen, a columnist for the British daily The Guardian, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, co-leader of the Greens in the European Parliament, and Hungarian-born pianist Andras Schiff. Bayer also described Cohen as "stinking excrement." Under the new law, which came into force on January 1, just as Hungary took over the presidency of the European Union, the regulatory authority NMHH can impose fines for material that is considered offensive and force journalists to reveal sources in issues related to national security.  Media watchdogs and several EU governments, as well the European Commission, have voiced fears that the law breaks rules supporting freedom of the press. On Wednesday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso says he will confront Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Friday over the law. During a press conference in Brussels, he said he will seek "clarification of the situation and, if possible, a lifting of the doubts" that have hung over the media law. The EU has not yet taken any legal action against the law. The whole European Commission will meet with the government in Budapest on Friday as part of the start of Hungary's six-month EU presidency.


savings ratio rises to 4.9% of GDP

The net financing capacity of households, or net household financial savings, reached HUF 1,317 billion or 4.9% of GDP in the four quarters ending Q3, the National Bank of Hungary (MNBH) said in its quarterly report based on national accounts data.  The ratio rose from 4.5% in the four quarters ending Q2 2010, and reached its highest level since Q1 2002. The ratio rose from a low 1.4% in 2008 to 3.5% of GDP in 2009. Transfers made from private pension funds on behalf of those opting to return to the state pension system - an option temporarily offered in 2009 to those near retirement age - reduced net savings of the four quarters ending Q3 2010 by HUF 98 billion or 0.36% of GDP (and improved the general government's financing position by a similar amount).

In Q3 alone, net savings totaled HUF 236 billion or 3.4% of the quarter's GDP. The seasonally adjusted ratio was 5.7% in Q3 last year, down from an extraordinarily high 8.5% in Q2 but still the highest adjusted ratio since Q2 2001. More than one third of net savings in Q3 last year came from a HUF 103 billion reduction of liabilities, mainly net loan repayments, as forint borrowing did not make up for the HUF 200 billion net repayment of foreign currency loans. The appreciating forint cut the value of liabilities by another HUF 282 billion. Households saved gross HUF 133 billion in Q3, and they gained another HUF 224 billion, most of it on rising share and investment fund unit prices. They reduced both forint and foreign currency deposits by a combined HUF 110 billion, and invested HUF 63 billion in bank securities and slightly more in investment fund units. Their private pension fund receivables rose the most, by HUF 129 billion, in the quarter.

Households had HUF 28,104 billion gross household financial assets against HUF 10,975 billion gross liabilities at the end of September 2010. At the end of September HUF 2,138 billion or less than 8% of gross household financial assets was in cash and another HUF 7,523 billion was in bank deposits, including HUF 1,428 billion in foreign currency deposits. Households held HUF 676 billion in bank deposits and HUF 722 billion in Hungarian government securities.


Amnesty International presents recommendations on human rights to Hungary

On the occasion of Hungary's EU presidency, Amnesty International (AI) presented a list of human rights recommendations to State Secretary of Justice Robert Repassy on Tuesday, asking the presidency to focus on protecting Roma rights, fighting against discrimination, and promoting justice, transparency and openness.

Director of the European AI Office Nicolas Beger told a news conference that over the recent period the European Union took a less resolute stand against human rights violations than it did previously. Now it is up to the Hungarian presidency to reverse this trend, he said, adding that Hungary can play a key role in protecting human rights in Central and Eastern Europe.

Repassy said the government would be open to the AI recommendations and analyse them in detail. He added that the presidency would also focus on protecting crime victims and invite AI to the conference to be organised on the topic in March. The state secretary added that the Hungarian presidency would also host conferences on Roma inclusion. In addition to the recommendations, AI highlighted ten cases of gross human rights violations committed all over the world, and asked the presidency to intervene for the victims.

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