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Flooding in Budapest - River Danube reaches 6.93 meters
The Danube experienced a breach of its banks in Budapest, reaching water levels unseen in a decade. This unusual event resulted from heavy rain and snow, followed by mild weather, leading to premature winter floods. Fortunately, this year's flooding did not cause substantial damage.
Hungary's General Directorate for Water Management reported that the Danube peaked at 6.93 meters late on Wednesday. Although this was below the 8.91 meters recorded in 2013 during the onset of extreme flooding in Central Europe after heavy May rains, it marked a significant rise.
According to the forecast, water levels are to fall by up to 40 centimeters on the first day of the year, with a high of around 520 at the end of the day. The highest river levels are expected to peak in the country's south at the end of the year, above 800 centimeters.
EU would help Ukraine €20bn aid
The European Union is preparing an up to €20 billion 'plan B' aid package for Ukraine to navigate around Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's opposition to a proposed €50 billion aid in early December. According to the Financial Times, the EU leaders have been looking for alternative ways to help the country.
The FT now reports that officials involved in the negotiations say Orban could no longer block the $20bn aid, which would use a lending structure because it would not require unanimous agreement from member state leaders. It is similar to the arrangement used in 2020 when member states provided €100 billion in short-term job aid during the coronavirus epidemic.
If EU leaders agree on this plan on 1 February, the IMF could send the aid to Ukraine. According to the FT article, this would be enough to prevent money printing in Ukraine, which would cause extreme levels of inflation.
Orbán's spin doctor helped Law and Justice before they lost the elections
After the Law and Justice party lost the elections in Poland, Polish politicians, attributed their defeat to Hungarian campaign advisors whose identities remained undisclosed. These advisors allegedly counseled the Law and Justice Party to adopt aggressive and divisive messaging, advocating for a harsh negative campaign against Donald Tusk—an approach that ultimately proved unsuccessful.
A former senior Hungarian government official and another source with close ties to the government told VSquare that these unnamed advisors were none other than Orbán's spin doctor Árpád Habony, and his associates from Századvég. The involvement of Habony in the Law and Justice campaign is noteworthy for several reasons. Previously, individuals closely associated with Habony were linked to Hungary's controversial golden visa scheme. This scheme facilitated the acquisition of Hungarian residency permits and Schengen visas for various individuals, including the son and family of Russian spy chief Sergey Naryshkin.
Habony also played a role in establishing the UK-based V4NA News Agency. This news outlet has been recognized for disseminating disinformation and propagating Kremlin narratives within the Visegrád region.
Norway Grants to give more funds to EU, Hungary might miss out
Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein will give half a billion euros more to the EU in the next seven-year budget, however, Hungary may miss out on the 3.26 billion euros coming through the Norwegian and EEA Funds again after the Hungarian government has been in a ten-year dispute with the Norway Grants over the distribution of the Hungarian share of the money, Hungarian daily Népszava reports.
At this point, it is unsure how much of the 3.26 billion would go to Hungary. The grant provides money to 15 EU member states in proportion to their development and population. In the past seven years, Hungary would have received €214 million. However, the Orbán government opted out after failing to get the government to distribute the share of the money to civil society organizations rather than the Ökotárs Foundation, which was tasked with the job. The foundation was also searched in 2014 on suspicion of misappropriation, but a year later the court ruled that the procedure was illegal.