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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid