News / Europe

EU Postpones Talks On Financial Assistance For Hungary After Massive Protests

A Hungarian protester dressed as a prisoner holds a banner during a demonstration against Prime Minister Viktor Orban and against the country's new constitution in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, Jan. 2, 2012.
A Hungarian protester dressed as a prisoner holds a banner during a demonstration against Prime Minister Viktor Orban and against the country's new constitution in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, Jan. 2, 2012.
Stefan Bos

The European Union's executive body says it and the International Monetary Fund have no plans yet to resume talks with financially troubled Hungary over multi-billion dollar assistance, amid concerns that new laws will lead to a government  take-over of the Central Bank and other previously independent institutions.

Tuesday's announcement by the European Commission came hours after tens of thousands of Hungarians protested in Budapest against a new constitution and related laws which, they say, are being used by the center right government to establish a dictatorship.

It was the largest such rally since Prime Minister Viktor Orban came to power in May of last year.

Shouting 'Orbanistan' and 'Dictatorship' protesters gathered near the State Opera building in Budapest, where Hungary's top leaders attended a gala performance celebrating the new constitution.

The constitution was enforced on New Year's Day without opposition support, despite Western concerns it curbs many basic freedoms in Hungary.

The constitution also changes the country's official name from 'Republic of Hungary' to just 'Hungary'. Name signs were changed at border posts, ahead of New Year's Day.

The European Commission made clear Tuesday that European delegates and the International Monetary Fund have not decided whether they are willing to start official negotiations on a financial safety net for Hungary of up to $26 billion.

Last month, the IMF and Commission officials walked away from talks in Budapest, amid concerns that planned legislation would threaten the independence of the country's Central Bank.

Despite these tensions, the center right Fidesz party of Prime Minister Orban used its two-thirds parliamentary majority to push through a controversial Central Bank law.

The bill strips Central Bank President Andras Simor of his right to name deputies, expands the interest rate-setting Monetary Council and creates a position for a third vice president.

Analysts have warned that can lead to government influence over Central Bank policies, which a European Commission spokesman said would violate EU law.

In one of his harshest comments on the issue yet, Commission spokesman Olivier Bailley said European and IMF delegates are not "for the time being" planning to come back to Budapest. "Because of the lack of certainty of the legal environment around the central bank which is very important to ensure the financial stability of the country, the IMF and the Commission have not decided yet to come back to Budapest for the start of the formal talks on the financial assistance," he said.

European Commissioners also raised worries about other Hungarian government issues, ranging from alleged threats to the independence of the judiciary, to a restrictive media law and to freedom of religion.  

Controversial legislation limits the churches and religious groups recognized and supported by the state from over 300 to just 14, a move critics say resembles policies of Hungary's previous Communist regime.

Methodist Pastor Gabor Ivanyi, whose church is not recognized under the new church law, suggested to demonstrators that he is concerned about his nation's spiritual and political future.

He says Hungarians want a prime minister who is able to go to the opera house by walking or by bicycle and can enter through the main entrance and not through the back door.  He also says: "There is no truth where laws are passed forcefully, without consultations, where people live in fear and where people are not equal.”

Hungarian Prime Minister Orban has denied he seeks to establish an authoritarian state.

Mr. Orban views the new constitution and other key laws as the closure of Hungary's transition from the collapse of Communism, in 1989, to democracy, now.

You May Like

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop illegal money flow from continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid