Saturday, April 05, 2008

Hungary Report

A euro-reporter from the Ovi magazine

Coalition is 'at risk'

"If reforms are not proceeding, there is no point left for the SzDSz to remain within the government coalition," Alliance of Free Democrats (SzDSz) president János Kóka said. The ultimatum-sounding words were triggered by several statements from senior Socialist Party (MSzP) officials, who demanded the healthcare reform should be reconsidered, and, if necessary, withdrawn.

Most explicit was the MSzP’s parliamentary party leader, Ildikó Lendvai, who said it may well be a possibility to keep all healthcare funds 100% state-owned. “Nobody wants this country to pay for the political risk that resulted from the initiators of the referendums,” she explained referring to international reaction to the Mar 9 referendum, and the threat from leading opposition party Fidesz of more referenda to come.

US-based credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade Hungary from “stable” to “negative” will, according to Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, “cost the country several billion forints.”

The debate over the healthcare reform, which was passed by Parliament twice, because President László Sólyom refused to sign it first time round, has been revived because of another referendum threat from Fidesz. “Why queue twice for a slap on the face? Why run head on into the wall twice?” opposition Fidesz party leader Viktor Orbán asked in a TV talk show, referring to a new. The results, Orbán predicted, would be just as devastating for the government as those of Mar 9 had been.

Fidesz is demanding that the government withdraw the healthcare reform which allows private capital and market competition into state-run healthcare. If the government does so, Fidesz will withdraw its referendum initiative, the party says, as it would abolish the government’s bill anyway. Analysts note that this continuous threat from Fidesz to overturn government decisions via referenda hugely increases political risks in the country, causing severe financial damage and, in the long run, might make governing the country for any party virtually impossible. Although, one day after the referendum, the PM was adamant that he would not restructure his government, two weeks later MSzP sources are saying otherwise. According to anonymous Socialist sources quoted by Hungarian daily Népszabadság, several scenarios have been drawn up, depending on the reaction of the junior coalition member.

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Hungary recognizes Kosovo


Hungary, along with two other countries that neighbor Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria, recognized the independent state of Kosovo. Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs hasn’t officially announced the fact, but did release a previously prepared statement that all but does.“Hungary, Bulgaria and Croatia continue to support efforts by the European Union and NATO to create stability and democratic institutions in Kosovo; meanwhile Kosovo’s institutions should guarantee a multi-ethnic state based on the principles of democracy and a constitutional state, which guarantee rights to the Serbian community and to other ethnicities, including their participation in those institutions,” the common statement of the three countries said.

Introducing the document on Wednesday, foreign ministry state secretary Márta Fekszi Horváth also called on Serbia to ensure the safety of 350,000 ethnic Hungarians living in Vojvodina (Vajdaság), an autonomous province in northern Serbia near the Hungarian border.

Although the announcement surprised no one, diplomatic retaliation from Serbia was immediate. The truth is that Serbia feels so lonely in this Kosovo case and the same time would expect countries with major minority problems to understand better before the problem knocks their door.

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