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Hungarian government allows deployment and transit of NATO troops
Hungary’s government issued a decree on Monday allowing NATO troops to be deployed in western Hungary and weapons shipments to cross its territory by land or by air to other NATO member states.
The decree was signed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and published in the official gazette on Monday.
The decree goes against the earlier position of the Hungarian government, that was against the presence of NATO troops in the country.
“There are already NATO soldiers in Hungary: the Hungarian Armed Forces, which is a NATO unit. The Hungarian Armed Forces are in good condition to defend the country, so there is no need for external troops,” Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said last month.
The decree was also forbidding the transit of “lethal weapons” across the country bound for Ukraine.
"A decree has been issued making clear that weapons may not be delivered to the territory of Ukraine from the territory of Hungary," Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a video message posted on his Facebook page following a meeting of the National Security Operative Corps.
The Hungarian government said from the start of the war that it would not allow NATO weapons transiting to Ukraine across its territory, but also said that it would refuse NATO troops on its territory.
Orbán also underlined that military operations were moving closer to Ukraine's border with Hungary, and said he expected the number of refugees would rise.
In this regard, he said decisions were taken "to ensure smooth cooperation between the authorities and civil organizations”.
“They lied that NATO weapons will not be transported through Hungary, and Fidesz did not even want to allow NATO defense forces a few weeks ago,” opposition figure András Fekete-Győr commented on the government's recent decision.
“The result: NATO weapons can be transported to Ukraine via Hungary, but only if they are not sent through the Hungarian-Ukrainian border. In practice, if the consignments bypass the Hungarian-Ukrainian border via neighboring Slovakia or Romania, the same goal will be achieved. This is not strategic calm (whatever that means), but strategic lying,” he added.
"Strategic calm" is the name Orbán gave to his government's policy regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Opposition stages protest in front of MTVA headquarters.
The 1,500-people strong protest was announced to stand up against the "Lies, falsifications and the spread of Russian propaganda in support of the aggressor, affecting the outcome of the elections.”
The speakers of the event were Ákos Hadházy, Bernadett Szél, László Varju, Tímea Szabó, Koloman Brenner, István Újhelyi, among others.
The main speaker of the demonstration was Péter Márki-Zay, the opposition's candidate for prime minister.
Ákos Hadházy reminded the participants of the demonstration that MTVA was shamelessly pushing government propaganda with a budget of hundreds of billions.
Timea Szabó recalled and deplored that since 2013, members of the opposition were practically excluded from the MTVA’s building.
Péter Márki-Zay spoke about the false news of the government, accusing the opposition of wanting to send weapons to Ukraine in connection with the Ukrainian war.
"The brainwashed masses will never hear it, but in fact Viktor Orbán is the one transporting weapons as he voted for the weapons transport together with other EU member states,” he said. However, the public media never talks about the spy bank, about the record deficit, the fuel shortage, the reasons behind the record inflation and the weakness of the local currency. Orbán is a traitor, Márki-Zay summed up.
Opposition parties want:
- their election program to be shown in the public media
- the end to the spreading of Russian propaganda
- that Orbán participate in an open debate,
Márki-Zay concluded by saying they wanted to transforms Hungary into a country where the rule of law prevailed.
Novák elected as president
Hungary's parliament Thursday elected Katalin Novák as the country's first female president for a five-year term, winning over economist Peter Rona in a vote split along party lines.
The ruling Fidesz Party and its junior coalition ally, the Christian Democratic People's Party (KDNP), which hold 133 seats in the 199-member parliament, nominated Novak for her first term.
Left-wing opposition parties nominated International economist professor Peter Rona, but his nomination was rather symbolic, as Novak’s election was assured by the two-third majority of Fidesz.
“The parliamentary parties for Unity in Hungary do not consider it fair that a few weeks before the end of their term, the majority of the current parliament, Fidesz, decides who will hold the presidency of the republic,” united opposition parties said, a day before Novák's election.
The Hungarian president is elected by parliament. To be elected in the first round of voting, a candidate must receive two-thirds of the vote.
Novák, a former minister without portfolio for families in the Orbán government, will become Hungary’s first female president when she takes office in May 10.
“Hungarians want peace. We women do not want to win the war, we want peace,” Novák said, before taking oath.
She is taking over from incumbent president János Áder, who is ending his second term as president. Áder took office in May 2012 following the resignation of his predecessor, Pál Schmitt, who became involved in a plagiarism scandal.
Novák was born in 1977. She studied Economics at the Corvinus University of Budapest and Law at the University of Szeged, including studies at Paris Nanterre University. She speaks French, English and German. She started working in politics back in 2001 (during the first Orbán administration) at the Foreign Ministry, specializing in European matters. In 2010, she became a ministerial advisor, and two years later she was appointed Head of Cabinet of the Ministry of Human Capacities (EMMI).
In 2014, she was named EMMI’s State Secretary for Family and Youth Affairs, eventually becoming Minister of Family Affairs in October 2020.
Between 2017 and 2021, she also served as one of Fidesz’s vice-presidents.
She suspended her party membership upon her nomination as a prerequisite to serving as the country's president.
Hungarian currency hits rock bottom at 400 forints for one euro
The Hungarian national currency, the forint, hit record lows against the euro 400 HUF/EUR on Monday.
The Hungarian currency reached a record 399.98 to the euro. The forint also dropped to new lows against the USD and the CHF at 367.90 and 399.03 forints, respectively.
The forint has plunged almost 10% against the euro to a record low since the start of the war in Ukraine. It’s among the biggest losers in the world.
The central bank’s (MNB) intervention of raising its one-week deposit rate proved to be in vain.
The rapid weakening of the forint is also adding to the inflation pressure, already at an astonishing level: The annual price growth accelerated to an almost 15-year high of 7.9% in January and reached 8.3% in February.
“The war makes the forint weak,” local business portal Portfolio commented on the negative record of the Hungarian currency.
“It is not yet clear where this weakening will end, investors are now paying close attention to the news of the Russo-Ukrainian war, as long as the current war conflict persists, it is difficult to imagine a serious calm in the exchange rate,” according to Portfolio.