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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid