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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.