Karácsony and Márki-Zay fail to agree, LIBE concerned with rule of law in Hungary, FreeSZFE students graduate and Paks2 is denied a permit

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Karácsony and Márki-Zay fail to agree, primaries continue with three candidates

After the victory of Klára Dobrev in the first round of the opposition primaries,  the two runners up, Karácsony and Márki-Zay tried to form an alliance in one week, both of them vowing to step aside from the race in order to increase the odds of beating Dobrev, whom neither would like as the final common candidate of the opposition, to challenge Orbán in 2022.

But Wednesday night, both candidates informed that they would not step back, each convinced to be able to win the now again three-partite election.

The mayors of Budapest and Hódmezővásárhely failed to agree, Márki-Zay changed his mind about stepping back after finding, on the basis of opinion polls, that he was more likely to defeat Klára Dobrev than Karácsony, he argued that he would not step down because he was afraid that Karácsony would not be able to win the primaries even if he did so.

“Although I never asked him, Peter Márki-Zay has been saying for months that he would step back in my favor in the second round of the primaries. However, at the last minute before the election, he came to the opposite conclusion. Of course, I respect his decision. As a result, we will start separately in the second round, but we are both committed to maintaining and strengthening the unity of the opposition,” Karácsony posted on his Facebook feed Wednesday night, following a meeting with Márki-Zay.

Dobrev remained impassive to the negotiations, saying only that she had no interests in talks dealing with techniques of power, and concentrated her efforts on continuing her campaign throughout Hungary.  But many of her supporters attacked both men for being egotistical, and of demolishing the unity of the opposition.

Karácsony and Márki-Zay began discussing their possible cooperation last Friday, and on Monday they agreed on several important details. They agreed to govern as a candidate for prime minister and a candidate for deputy prime minister and to conduct a joint primary and then election campaign.

The cooperation railed off after Márki-Zay got the results of polls that have shown he had probably more chance at facing Dobrev and Orbán than Karácsony, he also said that more people participated to his rally in Budapest, than the number of people Karácsony could gather "on a boat".

But Karácsony, who had worked as a pollster analyst for years before entering politics, was little impressed with quickly-conducted surveys based on a small number of participants.

In the second round of the elections, which starts on Sunday, it seems that unless some last minute change, all three names will figure on the ballots.

LIBE disappointed following visit in Hungary

Hungarian authorities failed to convince the fact-finding delegation of the European Parliament’s LIBE delegation about the situation of the rule of law in Hungary

The purpose of the LIBE delegation's three-day visit to Hungary last week was to assess the freedom of the press and academia, the independence of the judiciary and the rights of minorities, as well as the proper functioning of the general rule of law environment.

During the brief visit, LIBE officials met more than a hundred people, both from the government, and the opposition, as well as from independent organizations.

The MEPs also held discussions with representatives of political parties, non-governmental organizations, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, the judiciary, academia, education, the media and cultural life, as well as with Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony. On behalf of the government, they met with Justice Minister Judit Varga, and Sándor Pintér, Minister of the Interior.

The delegation also wanted to meet the Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán evaded the meeting, and called it as being “not important,” via the head of the Prime Minister’s Office.

The leader of the delegation, French MEP Delbos-Corfield said there were people (she didn’t identify them) who were clearly hostile towards the delegation: a media representative called the meeting a “joke” and then stood up and left, and a judge threatened and accused them of showing a lack of respect to the court.

Based on the impressions gathered throughout the different meetings, the MP said that the previous concerns about the Hungarian rule of law not only persisted, but had deteriorated in certain aspects.

The judicial “reforms” after 2018 will not help restore the independence of the judiciary, they are also very concerned about the outsourcing of public assets to foundations, as it makes transparency more difficult, according to her.

A continuous emergency situation due to the pandemic has been continuously renewed, similar to a practice existing in other countries as well, but in Hungary, the government took advantage of the situation, and a number of laws that were absolutely unrelated to healthcare and epidemic management were also adopted.

According to Delbos-Corfield, the Pegasus case could be a watershed in the EP, as there are clear signs that the Hungarian government had ordered the controversial observations. Incidentally, Judit Varga's official statement, published by Hungarian news agency MTI after her meeting with LIBE, did not mention a word about Pegasus.

Delbos-Corfield said that the public media and the MTI had little to no coverage of the opposition primaries, and had not even bothered to interview the opposition parties or the prime ministerial candidates: it was clear to the committee that media pluralism was nonexistent, and that the public media was by no means critical of the government.

Based on the experience of the meeting, LIBE will present a new report to the EP in December.

The first Freeszfe graduates will receive their diplomas next week

Next week, students from Freeszfe who have studied in the association's diploma rescue program called EmEx will be able to receive their diplomas from the German and Austrian partner universities, Kata Csató, president and lecturer of Freeszfe, told 444.

The eight-person strong theater playwright class from Hungary will receive the diploma at the graduation ceremony held at the University of Performing Arts in Ludwigsburg, together with the institution's own students. The ten graduate students in acting will graduate in Austria, at the Salzburg University of Music, which prepared a special ceremony for the occasion.

The Freeszfe Association announced in August that it was leaving the University of Theater and Film Arts (SZFE) along with students from the film, the director and the cinematography departments, whch started in 2019. At the beginning of September, another 74 students left SZFE, including the classes that are now graduating. They are all studying further in the Freeszfe EmEx program.

The third graduating class, theater directors, will be able to graduate later than the others, in the winter, because they started their practical courses later due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The EmEx program allows students leaving SZFE to be formally taken over by renowned European universities, which recognize the credits they have earned so far and the further work they will have done within the frames of the Freeszfe Association.

Paks2 nuclear power plant denied permit from local nuclear watchdog

The controversial Paks 2 has been denied its request for the establishment permit, as the nuclear energy agency requested the rectification of deficiencies.

The Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority (HAEA) has issued a concise but important announcement on its website.

“The Paks II. Nuclear Power Plant submitted an application on June 30, 2020 for the construction of new nuclear power plant units. From then, the HAEA had 12 months to conduct the establishment permit procedure. This deadline has been extended by three months in accordance with the legal framework.

The essence of the licensing procedure is to prove that the nuclear units will meet the highest domestic nuclear safety requirements and regulations.

For this purpose, the HAEA has involved international and domestic experts in the licensing process.

In the course of the proceedings, HAEA found that:

“The documentation submitted is extremely thorough in several respects, but in order for the authority to be able to fully verify all requirements, further evaluation and analysis is needed in some areas, taking into account the recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency's mission in parallel with the permitting process. To this end, the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority shall order further rectification of deficiencies in the licensing procedure.”

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