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Hungarian report Hungarian report
by Euro Reporter
2011-01-25 09:20:30
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EC questions about media law technical, says government official

The European Commission's questions to the Hungarian government concerning the new media law are "of a technical nature" rather than about the freedom of expression or that of the media, the state secretary in charge of government communication told MTI on Saturday. Zoltan Kovacs said the Commission's letter that arrived in Budapest on Friday, was "in no way an ultimatum" but a written version of "already known" concerns.

The state secretary added that Neelie Kroes, EU Commissioner for Digital Affairs, who signed the letter, expects an answer to her questions within two weeks, after which the Commission could ask further questions, if necessary. Kovacs said that one of the concerns raised was in connection with integrating an EU guideline on audio-visual and media services in Hungarian law, but added that the guideline had been incorporated in the media law without hardly any change.

Concerns raised in connection with expanding the requirement for balanced information and regulations affecting the registration of media service providers are also technical, suggesting no violation of the freedom of the press or that of expression, said Kovacs. He added that the government would provide "accurate and detailed" answers to all questions outlined in the letter.

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IMF sees Hungary economy overhaul plan ‘Promising,’ Nemzet says


The Hungarian government’s economic plan is headed in a “promising” direction of overhauling subsidies and strengthening fiscal discipline, an International Monetary Fund Official said, Magyar Nemzet reported.

“We have to wait for the details,” said Iryna Ivaschenko, the Washington-based lender’s representative in Hungary, according to the newspaper. “The direction is promising and several elements of the outlined program were earlier urged by IMF experts.”

The government measures, to be announced next month, should work toward a sustainable budget adjustment, which would improve Hungary’s assessment and help reduce public debt, Ivaschenko said, according to Budapest-based Magyar Nemzet. A plan to include a debt ceiling in the Constitution may strengthen budget discipline, she said, the newspaper reported.

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Hungarian officials re-open firm's case eight months after closure


Eight months after Hungarian officials closed the long-running police probe into Corfe Castle businessman Michael Turner, a new investigation has been lengthened.  Michael’s case was highlighted in the Daily Echo after the 28-year-old was imprisoned in a tough former KGB prison for four months without charge. He, and co-accused Jason McGoldrick, were extradited to Budapest in November 2009 under controversial European arrest warrant regulations in connection with the collapse of their Hungary-based marketing company in 2004.

Following last spring’s case closure – after investigators quizzed more than 500 people and failed to come up with a single charge – the Hungarian prosecutor’s office appointed a new head investigator and reopened the case. An email from Michael’s Budapest lawyer Dr Andras Pakay reveals this second probe has been extended until February 18. Michael said: “I can’t see an end to it to be honest. The investigation was closed but they keep saying ‘Here’s a new date, here’s another one’. I wasn’t surprised by this latest extension, and I won’t be surprised if it happens again. They just keep going to satisfy their hunger and drag it out as long as possible.”

Dr Pakay is now urging the Turners to mobilise their political allies to pressure the Hungarian authorities “in order to put an end to this tasteless game”. Meanwhile South Dorset MP Richard Drax, who promises to carry on fighting Michael’s corner, has revealed government minister Baroness Neville Jones says the Home Office is powerless in this case. Mr Drax said: “This is further evidence of how neutered we are by EU law and only reinforces my view that our country’s sovereignty is leaching away.” Michael’s father Mark said: “This has been more of an inquisition than an investigation.” Both men always denied defrauding more than 100 people out of £18,000 following the failure of their business, and after 115 days in custody – amid pressure from campaigners in the UK – the Hungarian authorities finally sanctioned their releases.


      
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