||Trouble at siliconvalley.com (mind)
|| 19 sor
||Re: Hungary Media (mind)
|| 12 sor
||rejected mail ? (mind)
|| 41 sor
||Mexico after $50 billion bailout. (mind)
|| 32 sor
||Attacks on the SzDSz (mind)
|| 26 sor
||Kornai owes an apology (mind)
|| 58 sor
||1956 and the current government (mind)
|| 37 sor
||Public utility companies? (mind)
|| 36 sor
||Letter to Bela Liptak (mind)
|| 31 sor
||Freedom fight and 1956 (mind)
|| 69 sor
||Origin of "Kolonay" (mind)
|| 5 sor
||H-Rep 1.27 (mind)
|| 648 sor
|+ - ||Trouble at siliconvalley.com (mind)
Today's output of the person (or persons) writing under the name of
"" runs to over 300 lines, mostly consisting
of repetitive complaints about mysterious forces censoring his Net access.
Rather than spinning more conspiracy theories about censorship, you ought
to have a heart-to-heart talk with your system administrator. Frequent
bounce messages are a sure-fire sign of a poorly administered system.
If the sysadmin at siliconvalley.com lacks the brainpower to set up a
decent mail service for his users, you should consider switching to a
competent service provider. No use whining about it. Let's face it: you
don't have to be a mental giant to run a decent Internet site, but some
sysadmins just can't hack it, and never will.
Vote with your feet. Fire the moron. Take your business elsewhere.
There are plenty of competent access providers out there who can do this
sort of thing in their sleep.
|+ - ||Re: Hungary Media (mind)
In order to make rational judgements on content, I need to
consult experts about the biases and party connections of
Hungarian medea. I, therefore, seek the opinions members on
the "Hungary Report" and other Hungary publications available
on the net -- for example, at:
If this subject was discussed before I joined the list (a few
months ago), a pointer to an appropriate starting point in the
archives would be appreciated. Thanks in advance for the help.
|+ - ||rejected mail ? (mind)
I am not about to take sides in the @siliconvalley argument.
Just to set the record straight:
Something must have been wrong at the address
because I also had trouble transmitting messages (twice, to be exact)
this past weekend.
(I wanted to make a short comment about a posting; now it is no longer
interesting, so I abandoned it.)
Life is short. Please, try to be a little more tolerant with each other.
Martha S. Bihari
On Mon, 13 Nov 1995, Gabor Fencsik wrote:
> Today's output of the person (or persons) writing under the name of
> "" runs to over 300 lines, mostly consisting
> of repetitive complaints about mysterious forces censoring his Net access.
> Rather than spinning more conspiracy theories about censorship, you ought
> to have a heart-to-heart talk with your system administrator. Frequent
> bounce messages are a sure-fire sign of a poorly administered system.
> If the sysadmin at siliconvalley.com lacks the brainpower to set up a
> decent mail service for his users, you should consider switching to a
> competent service provider. No use whining about it. Let's face it: you
> don't have to be a mental giant to run a decent Internet site, but some
> sysadmins just can't hack it, and never will.
> Vote with your feet. Fire the moron. Take your business elsewhere.
> There are plenty of competent access providers out there who can do this
> sort of thing in their sleep.
> Gabor Fencsik
|+ - ||Mexico after $50 billion bailout. (mind)
Reminder what Dr.Andras Pellionisz is talking about for years.Quote from: The
Toronto Star,November 13,1995. "The naked Mexico" by Linda Diebel.
>From the tense days of the $50 billion (US) international bailout last
February.....They seem to have missed the unbelievable pain that has put 2.3
million people out of work since this crisis began with the devaluation of
the peso last Dec.20. It is obvious to anyone who lives or works here that
something is terribly wrong.Almost half of the companies in Mexico,big,medium
sized and small are unable to pay their bills,including their taxes.Hundreds
of thausands of mom-and-pop operations are closing down.There are no new
jobs.Everyone seems to have a son,husband,daughter or brother out of work.
Proud men,once employed,come scratching at the door looking for work.
Each week,the news gets grimmer:business suicides on the front pages:bank
loans crashing: 4 million credit cards,half the cards in Mexico,in default:
almost 2 million farmers abandoning their land:inflation running over 50 per
"This is a surreal situation because macro-economist will say that things
"I am confident the crisis has turned into a manageable problem" Michel
Camdessus,managing director of the International Monetary Fund enthused last
May before the powerful council of the Americans in New York.By that time,the
IMF had lent Mexico $27.8 billion: it was part of a package that included
$20 billion from the US.and $1.5 billion from Canada.
......Zedillo went to Washington in early October.What a trip that was.
Accolades and toast all round.It was announced with immense fanfare,that
Mexico was making a $700 million payment on a $2 billion,due Oct 31,two weeks
early.Mexicos loans are a mishmash of short term notes due at different
times.Mexico borrowed the $700 million on the Europian bond market,then
couldn't pay the $1.3 billion balance by the end of October and ended up
having to renegotiate a costly three-month Extension. End of quote.
(Ismeros a tema? Mintha Dr.Andras Pellionisz is errol beszelne) Laci Toth
|+ - ||Attacks on the SzDSz (mind)
Gabor Elek writes:
>>vicious, almost murderous verbal attacks against democratic parties
>>like the SZDSZ (a party who supported Dr Liptak wholeheartedly in
Why not. It is democracy. Should we be any better or worst than other nations.
I don't think that either the americans or the english treat the oposition
parties with kid gloves. Nor was the SzDSz that white. If I hate the ideas
for which a party stands, I could express my opinion.
On the other hand I agree, we should control a language when we talk
about the persons in the party. I do respect Peto. (though I disagree
with his party) As it may seem strange, I almost hate the SzDSz, but not
the people in it. Except for one, I can even like them. (Really!!)
I am the same way with the slovaks. Not liking the present ruling party
there, does not mean that we dislike slovaks, but we dislike the goverment.
>> Also, try to use Slovak in birth certificate or
>> in other official documents...
I think they should be able to do it, if in one area they are in significant
numbers. Are they? Unless I am mistaken, they are not. Even the slovaks
agree that there is almost no unassimilated slovak in hungary.
|+ - ||Kornai owes an apology (mind)
(1) First of all, our Andras Szucs/Pellionisz is surely paranoid if he thinks
that a dumb computer can differentiate between his prose and that of others.
Every time I send a message to this list I get it back, claiming to be
undeliverable. And it doesn't matter whether I send it to the George
Washington address or to HIX. However, I don't think that someone is after
me. Especially a computer! And especially via Budapest!
(2) Mr. Szucs's and Mr. Pellionisz's styles are getting very similar. Both
keep insisting on apologies--a favorite demand of Mr. Pellionisz's in the
past. I haven't heard so many demands for apologies since I was a child. My
grandmother used to send us, her grandchildren, to the bedroom to stand in
the corner until we apologized! But since that time I don't think that even
one person--beside Mr. Pellionisz, of course--has demanded apologies from me.
A couple of times I apologized without any prodding from someone else; that
is, when I thought that I had been unfair.
(3) Yes, and these demands for apology. To whom should we apologize for
holding certain views? Surely, not to Mr. Pellionisz/Szucs since he seems to
indicate that these apologies should be addressed to the whole Hungarian
nation. But the demand comes from him. What I would like to know is this: who
authorized Mr. Pellionisz/Szucs to speak in the name of all Hungarians?
Nobody, surely! He is taking this task upon himself. And, of course, there
are no apologies because I haven't done anything to anyone which would
require an apology.
(4) Last time we heard that Mr. Kornai and Ms. Balogh are indistinguishable
and, behold, now comes an awful surprise. Mr. Kornai and Ms. Balogh don't
agree on something. Mr. Kornai thinks this; Ms. Balogh thinks that! Horribile
dictu! And you know what, Mr. Pellionisz/Szucs, I still don't think that Mr.
Kornai is a traitor and I am certain that Mr. Kornai doesn't think the same
about me. I don't demand an apology from him in my own name or in the name of
the Hungarian people. And I would be most surprised that if Mr. Kornai
demanded an apology from me. Moreover, I have another surprise for you: we
are just as good friends now as we were ten days ago. Because, you know Mr.
Szucs/Mr. Pellionisz, this is called civilized behavior. This is how people
behave who have been living in a democratic country with a higher political
culture than that of Hungary. That is, people, who have been not only living
in a democratic country, but who lived their with their eyes and ears open.
You obviously have lived in this country for at least twenty years but you
haven't acquired its most basic political behavior. "Nem ragadt ra semmi," as
the Hungarian saying goes.
(5) And finally, following in Mr. Antony's footsteps: do you realize the
damage you have been inflicting on all the Hungarian lists by your behavior?
You have managed to achieve a terrible polarization on the Forum at least.
Just speaking for myself, when I began to follow Hungarian political events
almost two years ago I had a perfectly open mind concerning both conservative
and liberal points of views because I consider my own political makeup the
amalgam of these two political theories. (I am sure that I am not alone in
that.) But thanks to you, Mr. Pellionisz, I am getting more and more turned
off by what is considered to be "conservatism" in Hungary. There is no such
thing. There is only the "right" and that right, by my standards at least, is
too far to the right. Thus, instead of making a convert out of me, you have
alienated me but thoroughly. Yes, I am unhappy with the current government,
but God save us from Mr. Torgyan, Mr. Csurka, and the like, including
|+ - ||1956 and the current government (mind)
Karoly Sandor Juhasz asks:
> Isn`t there an (un)healthy minority of people in government/armed
>forces that were amongst those (whether in backing, giving the orders or
>commiting the actually deed) who fired on the people/freedom fighters in
>1956 - i.e. amongst the Avo; who are now, I might add, advertising their
No, it isn't scandalous, and, of course, it is partly true. I think one of
the real problems the MSZP is facing today is the past of its leader and
currently the country's prime minister. Gyula Horn was a volunteer in one of
the officer corps which began their activities as early as November 21,
1956l. Since Kadar and his friends didn't trust the rank-and-file army and
the police and they didn't want to rely exclusively on the Soviet troops they
organized these officer corps which were very similar to those of the early
days of the Horthy regime. At the beginning beside the reliable army
officers, 200 party functionaries and 200 Greek and Yugoslav "refugees" took
part in the work of the officer corps. Gyula Horn was one of the volunteers
in this small band of people whose function was to prop up a puppet
government! We are talking only a few thousand people who were willing to do
the dirty work in December 1956. He was one of them.
The MSZP, especially with Horn at the helm, is ambivalent about 1956 despite
the fact that many former communists took active part in the events, either
in the armed insurrection or in the passive resistance. Perhaps once Horn is
no longer the head of the party, the MSZP will be able to formulate a more
positive attitude toward 1956. Until then, as many commentators mentioned
this year, October 23 will not be a national holiday, but only a
state/government holiday (allami unnep). As it stands October 23 is
celebrated separately by the different parties and the government's
celebration is skimpy, to say the least..
|+ - ||Public utility companies? (mind)
According to Laci Toth:
>If they bought MVM as it stands today,
>they could still make a lot of money by reducing costly maintenance invest-
>ments and living off the "Gold-Plating" for a few years
But what Laci doesn't understand is that there is no "gold-plating." I don't
remember exactly the figure but it is enormous what MVM would need to bring
its operation to modern standards. Moreover, practically all privatisation
sales include a proviso for X amount of investment over Y number of years,
which the new owners must sign.
>break down,often, unpredictably.Like taking care of your car,the rule for
>electrical system maintenance is "pay me now or pay me later". Will a priva-
>tized,profit-seeking utility industry be able to maintain the high level of
>reliability and accountability that we Hungarians now take for granted?
Now, Laci, I know that you worked in one of those public utility companies in
Canada,but do you really think that only publicly owned utilities do a good
job at maintaining high level of reliability. For example, my electricity
comes from a private utility company, and I bet that the service I receive is
as good as the service Torontonians get. And surely it is as good, if not
better, than what "we Hungarians now take for granted." I actually heard from
my relatives that a couple of years ago, practically every second day there
was something wrong with the supply of electricity. My young cousin said that
she actually enjoyed these evening: studying by candlelight.
>BUSINESS IS BUSINESS!
and that's exactly why a firm must maintain high standards, otherwise their
customers will not be too happy with them.
|+ - ||Letter to Bela Liptak (mind)
Sorry about being so verbose today, but there were so many interesting
comments in today's Hungary that I just can't stop.
Here is Gabor Elek's piece, especially these lines:
> See, I read outreagous anti-Slovak racist
> crap on the FORUM (together with anti-arab, anti-jewish, anti-romanian
> craps). As far as I recall Dr Liptak overlooked these
> comments, which lead toward an other modest suggestion.
> Dr Liptak seems to be associated with people who are very much like
> the people he is fighting against...
> A clarification of his position on this issue would be very
> important for me. (I do not refer to the mildly nationalistic, very, very
> patriotic, so called NEMZETI ideas. They are absolutely O.K)
> Blood-accusation against Jews, hate-language against minorities,
> vicious, almost murderous verbal attacks against democratic parties
> like the SZDSZ (a party who supported Dr Liptak wholeheartedly in
> many issues) that is what should not be tolerated. (I add a new
> kind of disguting tendency. Some imbeciles began to accuse the
> late prime minister Jozsef Antall to have connection with the
> Ukrainian Maffia.)
Yes, Bela, I know that you and I were at the same illegal MEFESZ meeting in
late November 1956 where we risked our lives, but I think that you should pay
just a little bit more attention to what is going on in Hungary in certain
circles today. It is not very pretty. And I know that you don't have much
time, but please do read some of the older and newer issues of the Forum. It
may change your mind about how to approach certain political questions.
|+ - ||Freedom fight and 1956 (mind)
To continue our discussion on the "freedom fight," I think it is important to
keep in mind--as Peter Hidas rightly pointed out-- that "freedom fight" as a
description of the events of 1956 are not homegrown. It was described as such
in the foreign press--I assume starting with the American. In Hungarian we
actually never refer to it as "fuggetlensegi haboru" or "szabadsagharc," but
always as "a forradalom" that is, "the revolution." Obviously, the Hungarian
usage points to an important distinction between 1848-49 and 1956. According
to that usage, we normally refer to 1848-49 as "forradalom es szabadsagharc,"
"revolution and war of independence," as opposed to 1956 when the word
"szabadsagharc" is never used. Moreover, if you think about it, "freedom
fight" doesn't really mean "szabadsagharc" pure and simple because
"szabadsagharc" has a very strong connotation of "war of independence," while
"freedom fight" does not. In any case, to Hungarian minds 1956 was a
revolution rather than a war of independence.
With that I don't want to say that "independence," was not an important
ingredient of 1956. I would say that it was as important as the lack of
personal freedom. The slavish imitation of the Soviet Union at home and the
lack of true independence in foreign affairs were of paramount
importance--the demand for the Soviet troops to leave the country was
formulated as early as October 23.
But let's return to the question of heroism. Let's start with some Eastern
European stereotypes: Serbs: hot-headed (kinyilik a bicska a zsebukben = the
knife opens by itself in their pockets); they were the only ones who stood up
to the Germans from the very beginning. The Poles = lovers of freedom, brave
and somewhat foolish, but look at them, the Home Army fought the Germans all
along. Czechs = cowardly lot, they are not fighters. They did nothing when
the Germans came and they did nothing when the Russians came. They did
nothing in 1848 either. Well, in that stereotyping where do we place the
Hungarians. Yes, they fought in 1848-49 and they did fight when attacked in
1956 but when they think that the odds are overwhelmingly against them they
are not heroic for the sake of heroism. They did nothing when the Germans
came and they didn't fight in overwhelming numbers when the Russians returned
on November 4, 1956. In that respect they certainly cannot be compared to the
Poles who indeed fought three wars of independence against Russia--against
overwhelming odds. Is that being cowardly or is it being realistic? Of
course, the same question could be asked in case of the Czechs. And by the
way, the Russian responses to 1956 and to 1968 were not fundamentally
different despite the difference in Czech and Hungarian fighting spirits.
And one more thing. I don't think that one can compare 1848-49 to 1956 for
two more reasons. (1) We are dealing with two entirely different political
systems. We may not have liked Metternich's Austria but it was nothing like
Stalin's and his successors' Soviet Union. (2) The enormous difference in
military technology which had taken place in 110 years. It was one thing of
making guns from church bells in 1848-49 and it was another matter to face
the Soviet military arsenal, even with the help of the Hungarian army.
And then to return to Andras's posting of today:
>My argument is that if the majority of those who left were so active
>in paramilitary resistance (I take paramilitary in the broadest sense,
>including underground newspapers, couriers, what have you) how come
>they had so little impact?
I think that given the nature of totalitarianism (mentioned briefly above)
the impact was actually quite substantial. First of all, let's mention the
general strike which was organized. According to the same university textbook
I already quoted the Kadar-government had about as much popular support as
Szalasi's after October 15, 1994. Kadar and his friends were afraid to use
the army or the police to break the general strike. Not even the former party
members were behind this government. It took months to break the strike and
the government had not enough power to break the workers' councils on the
factory level until November 1957. Again, I think Andras underestimates the
strength of a totalitarian regime, on the one hand, and, on the other, the
effectiveness of passive resistance.
|+ - ||Origin of "Kolonay" (mind)
Subject: Time: 3:28 PM
OFFICE MEMO Origin of "Kolonay" Date: 11/14/95
I am researching the ethnicity of the name Kolonay. Is it Hungarian or not?
|+ - ||H-Rep 1.27 (mind)
The Hungary Report
Direct from Budapest, every week
Also available on the World Wide Web
No. 1.27, November 13, 1995
SPONSORED BY: iSYS Kft., providing full Internet solutions for
companies and individuals in Hungary. For further information, send
e-mail to >, view our World Wide Web home page
(http://www.isys.hu) or call (+36-1) 266-6090.
Smallholders Party rally on the 50th anniversary of its postwar
Health care workers demonstrate for pay rise
General electricity strike edges closer
Slovak-Hungarian talks over language law fail
APV Rt rejects French bid for Antenna Hungaria
Figures show Hungary's economy stabilizing
DM 1 billion credit line slated for Hungary
EBRD and Hungarian bank sign on trade loan
Polygram knocks again at Hungaroton's door
New foreign exchange code eases transactions
Government's recently resigned PR team has a strange interpretation
about the role of the media.
Average monthly wage in real terms
Next year's estimated rate of inflation
Projected 1996 devaluation rate
Unemployed recent grads
Hungarian life expectancy
Size of grey economy
Report proposes new laws for prostitutes
Socialists prepare for 1998
MAGYAR NET WATCH
In the news
The Hungary Report is also supported in part by:
MTI-Econews, a daily English-language financial news service. For
on-line (fee-based) subscription information, contact the Internet
address: >. (It's not automated -- write a nice
By Kriszta Fenyo and Jennifer C. Brown
Copyright (c) 1995
Smallholders Party rally on the 50th anniversary of its postwar
The Smallholders Party, currently the most popular opposition party,
held a celebration rally last Saturday on the 50th anniversary of the
party's election victory. Party leader Jozsef Torgyan vowed solemnly
that the present party would repeat the grand victory again. In his
three hour speech, Torgyan outlined an "alternative economic
programme", that included lowering taxes, re-negotiation of the World
Bank and IMF agreements, a "crusade" against unemployment, a rise of
pensions, and the construction of 20,000 new flats, Magyar Hirlap
reported. Torgyan also reiterated his conviction that by next year
there would be early elections in Hungary and his party would come
out as the absolute winner.
One of the most controversial incidents during the rally was the
speech of Franciscan monk Otthmar Faddy. In a passionate speech, he
said that those who did not want a "Christian Hungary" of "God,
homeland and family" must leave the country, Magyar Hirlap quoted
him saying. Holding up a cross, he warned: "We won't hang or beat
anyone but we will sweep the foreigners out of the country". Shortly
after Faddy's speech, the Franciscan order issued a statement in
which they distanced themselves from the speech and asked for
forgiveness from those who may have been offended by it.
Health care workers demonstrate for pay rise
Tens of thousands of health care workers took part in a demonstration
in front of parliament last Saturday. The two biggest dailies
estimated a showing of 50,000 to 60,000 people. The demonstrators
handed over a petition demanding a 35% pay rise and a 10% increase in
the funding of health institutions, instead of the 20% rise offered
by the government, television news reported. Speakers at the
demonstration warned that hospitals were already on the brink of
collapse and without a more substantial increase of funding health
care workers would not be able to treat patients properly. Health
care work is among the lowest paid jobs with an average HUF 30,000 (
US$ 230) per month. Some nurses take home as little as HUF 12,000 (
US$ 92), according to a survey in Nepszabadsag.
The government's welfare secretary of state acknowledged in an
interview with a Sunday paper that wages in heath care were "unjustly
low" but said that there was simply no more money available. He added
that those institutions that manage their budgets better would be
able to give more pay rises. Further talks are expected this week
between the trade unions and the government. Some demonstrators,
however, told the press that if the demonstration was not enough they
were ready to strike.
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
APV Rt refuses sole bid for Antenna Hungaria
The State Holding and Privatization Agency (APV Rt) has scrapped
French Telecom subsidiary TeleDiffusion de France's (TDF) bid for
national broadcasting monopoly Antenna Hungaria. Some 50% of the
company was offered for HUF 15 billion (US$ 10.9 million). Sole
bidder TDF offered slightly less for the share, which, in the APV
Rt's eyes, was too low. Meanwhile, the Budapest Business Journal
(BBJ) reports that some close to the deal say the price for the bid
was initially set too high due to mis-evaluation. The APV Rt plans to
issue a new tender in December in hopes of attracting stronger bids.
The rejection of TDF's bid is the latest in a string of botched
privatization deals that have left foreign investors out in the cold.
A year ago the government refused to sell HungarHotels to American
hotel company American General Hospitality. More recently, state
record company Hungaroton was sold to Hungarian investors for half
the price offered by Dutch-owned Polygram (see Short Takes). An
editorial in the BBJ states that the latest fiasco sends a negative
message to foreign investors and could also cast a shadow on the
upcoming sale of five state-owned utilities companies, estimated to
bring in revenue of $2 billion.
GENERAL STRIKE IN THE ELECTRICITY INDUSTRY EDGES CLOSER as workers
plan to set up a strike committee on Tuesday. Trade unions warned
that if the government did not agree to their 20% pay rise they would
stage a general electricity strike in the near future, television
news reported last week. The strike would last for 8 hours and is
expected to cause a 25% drop in production. Newspaper commentators
say that there is little chance for agreement. Meanwhile, warning
strikes continued throughout last week, with three power plants
lowering production for two hours.
SLOVAK-HUNGARIAN TALKS FAILED to ease tensions over the new Slovak
language law bill when the two prime ministers met in Berlin last
week. Slovak prime minister Vladimir Meciar and his Hungarian
counterpart Gyula Horn met in the German city at an international
conference and staged an "unofficial" summit to try and resolve
conflicts over the new bill. Their standpoints, however, remained as
far as they were before, Magyar Hirlap reported. Meciar maintained
that the law would not infringe upon the rights of the Hungarian
minority in Slovakia, while Horn insisted that it caused tensions and
said that Hungary intended to consult the European Council on the
issue and, if necessary, register an official complaint with the
NEW FIGURES REVEAL THAT THE ECONOMY IS STABILIZING, leading
economists to believe that Finance Minister Lajos Bokros's austerity
package seems to be working as planned, the Budapest Business Journal
reports. Recently released economic figures show a trend of declining
consumer spending. Other figures released also show that inflation is
now at about 1.7% compared to 2% in September. Last year's inflation
rate was 28.5% compared to today's 28%.
THE EUROPEAN BANK FOR RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT (EBRD) HAS
GUARANTEED A LOAN for the Hungarian Trade Bank. The loan will be used
to revive trade between Central and Eastern European countries and
the former Soviet Union. Both the EBRD and the Hungarian bank will
contribute US$ 25 million toward credit risks. The Hungarian Foreign
Trade Bank was the first bank to sign such a guarantee agreement with
POLYGRAM IS KNOCKING ONCE AGAIN ON HUNGAROTON'S DOOR. The Budapest
Sun reports that even after loosing a chance to purchase state record
company Hungaroton, Polygram Hungary is now discussing the
possibility of purchasing Hungaroton's valuable classical archive
section. The Dutch-owned Polygram threatened to sue the State
Privatization Agency (APV Rt ) earlier this fall on grounds of
discrimination after it's HUF 680 million bid was rejected in favor
of a HUF 250 million bid made by Hungarian investors. The rejection
of Polygram's bid sparked complaints from the Dutch government and
more than its share of negative publicity in the local
English-language press. If Polygram is allowed to purchase the
archives, the company reports that it will drop the lawsuit. (A
little face-saving couldn't hurt now.)
THE HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSED A FOREIGN EXCHANGE BILL last week
that will ease the forint toward convertibility. While the code still
imposes some restrictions on capital transactions, companies will now
be able to freely exchange forints for any currency used in
transactions related to business activities. The bill allows
Hungarian companies to take out hard currency loans and set up
companies abroad. The legislation also does away with the permission
foreigners need to obtain in order to buy property. The legislation
also fulfills requirements for Hungary's membership in the
Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD), now expected to take place Jan. 1.
* Average monthly wage in Hungary, down 10% in real terms
(Central Statistical Office): HUF 25,557 ($187)
* Level of inflation projected next year (Ministry of Finance):
* Devaluate rate per month planned for the first six months
of next year (Ministry of Finance): 1.2%
* Unemployed recent graduates registered in October
(Vasarnapi Hirek): 6,400
* Average life expectancy in Hungary compared to the
European average of 72 (Napi Gazdasag): 65
* Percentage of the economy considered to be operating in
the "grey" compared to 10% in Romania (European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development's Transition report 1995):
In last week's briefs, it was stated that the Brits have invested US$
800 in Hungary. Obvious mistake. Of course, they have invested US$
800 million. Thank goodness.
In Numbers Crunched, we reported that the year-end budget deficit was
initially expected to be HUF 56 billion (US$ 4.1 million).
Unfortunately, the correct figure is HUF 156 billion (US$ 1.1
Please excuse the errors.
KF & JCB
Friday, November 10, 1995 (National Bank of Hungary)
US dollar -134.33 (buying),137.01(selling)
Deutschemark - 95.4 (buying), 96.3 (selling)
WACKY AS USUAL
Government's recently resigned PR team has a strange interpretation
of media's role
Hardly a week after the new public relations team of the government
introduced itself and was dubbed as the "dream team", its head
announced that all but one of them would resign. The reason: their
position was made "impossible" by the press itself, with which the
team had earlier vowed to strike up good relations.
The story started a week ago on the day the "dream team" appeared on
TV at its first press conference. When the cameras showed one of the
team members, Endre Mihalyi, several viewers stared at disbelief.
They clearly recognised in the young man, who was introduced as a
real expert and professional, the very same man who had embezzled the
funds of a school trip to England. Televisions' A Het (The Week)
programme got hold of the story and aired it last Sunday evening,
revealing that Mihalyi was actually under criminal procedure for the
"Dream team" head, Henrik Havas, himself a well-known journalist,
said he had not known Mihalyi personally, but had only hired him on a
recommendation. He also commented to the daily Magyar Hirlap that he
couldn't possibly know everyone or fill up his team with his friends.
And above all, he was deeply offended by the lack of "collegiality"
from the press. Instead of coming out with the story immediately they
should have warned him first to help him to smooth it over without a
scandal. He was also hurt by the fact that none of the papers
reported that he had made it clear at the introduction that he did
not know Mihalyi, he told MTI. As a result, his work was "made
impossible" by the press and in deep offense he decided to resign
with his whole team. Prime minister Gyula Horn also blamed the press
for losing his new team, reiterating that the press should have
warned Havas instead of publishing the story.
Report proposes new laws for prostitutes
By Emmanuelle Richard
Copyright (c) 1995
It might not be long before prostitutes in Hungary become legal
entrepreneurs, giving out receipts and filling tax forms. At least
that's the scenario foreseen by a new 40-page Interior Ministry
report that recommends the legalisation and strict regulation of
The report, soon to be distributed to all government ministries, was
drafted by a five-person board comprised of police executives and
legislators. The effort is aimed at replacing current laws,
considered out-of-date, and cracking down on the spread of the
unregulated sex industry.
"While Budapest has become a capital of prostitution in Europe, the
law in force remains from another age", said Lt. Col. Akos Borai,
author of the new report.
Like France or Portugal, Hungary's current law is based on the 1950
world convention on prostitution, "a rather prostitute-friend
treaty," according to Borai. It declares prostitution illegal, but
the signatories are asked to pursue pimps and other profiteers rather
than the prostitutes, who are considered victims.
Hungary made its law even more ambiguous in 1993, introducing a
decree which reduced prostitution to a misdemeanor. In practice,
hookers incur minor fines for solicitation, while pimps and brothel
owners remain the primary targets of police and other officials.
The report, a significant step in the eventual drafting of new
legislation on prostitution, contains several original proposals.
Prostitution would be entirely legal, but geographically limited.
Each municipality would create red-light districts, or so-called
"patience zones" (turelmi zonak), mostly separated from traditional
residential areas, schools and churches. Prostitutes would apply for
and receive permits. Police would fine anyone practicing out of the
zone or without a permit. Medical examinations would be performed
The office of Budapest Mayor Gabor Demszky and National Police
officials, however, have delayed the progress toward legislation,
arguing that Hungary should consider abandoning the 1950 treaty and
allowing brothels on the Amsterdam model.
Neither of the new approaches would actually be new for Budapest.
During the Habsburg and Horthy eras, prostitution was licensed with
fixed prices in established "pleasure areas," which provided brothels
and medical centers. In 1950, the Communist Party shut down the
licensed brothels and compelled many prostitutes to undergo
"re-education" at a labor camp in Dunaujvaros. But hookers gradually
drifted back to Budapest in the 1980s as tourism was emerging.
The new ministry report recommends the capital's "patience zone" be
on Nepsziget, a peninsula on the Danube in the north of the city now
mostly frequented by campers and nightclubbers.
In addition, it recommends prostitutes to be free to register as
individual entrepreneurs, but only voluntarily, in order to respect
the 1950 treaty. "We would like to make them accept this status,"
Under the plan, street walkers, like any business owner, would have
to deal with red tape, give out those little green szamlas
(receipts), and pay taxes, including AFA (VAT). But they wouldn't be
allowed to hire other prostitutes. That would place them into the
category of brothels, which would remain illegal.
"We are very conscious of the limits of such proposals," admits
Borai. "There are no good solutions, but these are the best we could
find to deal with such a hopeless situation."
Much of the pressure that resulted in the ministry report has come
from Budapest's District VIII, the capital's poorest central district
and its prostitution center for decades with an estimated 3, 000
hookers. "Prostitution has recently become an activity closely linked
to organised crime," explains Borai. "The police can't infiltrate the
milieu nor reassure residents who complain about growing insecurity,"
A senior District VIII official meanwhile, said he believed the
proposal to establish "patience zones" would not be enough to curb
the street business that has plagued that district and does not
sufficiently address the health issue related to prostitution. He
also registered his disapproval over the fact that district
governments have not been asked to offer their opinions on the latest
The author of the report believe the moving of prostitutes to
"patience zones" would help free District VIII from its pimps and
other shady characters. Borai added that the relationships between
pimps and prostitutes are particularly cruel in Hungary. Most of the
hookers are women from disadvantaged families or institutions. By
some estimates, 90 percent of them were sexually abused by relatives
during their childhood and a large percentage of them are forced to
work on the street.
If the plan works, of course, there would be a third beneficiary;
government coffers. Taxes from legalised prostitution could bring
billions of forints a year.
In District VIII, street walkers mostly pretend to ignore details of
the potential legislation. But Kati, a smiling 30 something working
on Jozsef utca, mocks the plan, saying the change has been rumored
for years. "I'm sure it will never happen," she laughs. "It's just
too ridiculous. Nobody would ever want to go working on Nepsziget or
wherever. It's too far. By the time you get there, you have missed
two or three clients. No way."
When it comes to possibly filing with tax authorities, she says,
"tell me how the government can tell whether I make Ft 800 a day or
more?" Words such as "receipts" and "tax", she adds, have nothing to
do with her daily universe.
According to police estimates, only 10 percent of all prostitutes
would likely accept to work in "patience zones". One pimp recently
told TV reporters that armed struggle would occur during the move to
"patience zones" and with the repartitioning of any new territory
between competing groups. Some prostitutes, meanwhile, have indicated
they don't want the state "to be our new pimp."
Borai doesn't know when the new law on prostitution will be
completed, or how it could be decently implemented. He even seems
personally to favor the police and mayor's office attempt to try an
even more progressive law. But he doesn't believe parliamentary
parties will have the daring to pass a law licensing brothels.
Still, he believes solving the problem has become so urgent, the
ministry's proposals will likely be tried.
"I'm the first to be skeptical. The next question will be: What can
society offer these girls beyond simple legal impunity?"
* * *
Emmanuelle Richard is a freelance journalist who writes for French
and English publications.
Socialists prepare for 1998
By Tibor Vidos
Copyright (c) 1995
Socialist members of Parliament were recently asked to sign a
circular calling for the election of a new caucus leadership. With
this game of poker, the Convention of the Socialist Party scheduled
for Nov. 24 has taken a new and exciting turn.
Imre Szekeres, the parliamentary leader of the Socialist Party, is in
the spotlight again. In October 1994 he almost became the Deputy
President of the Party - and with that, the official successor to
Prime Minister Horn.
The convention rejected at that time the establishment of the office
of the deputy president, and Szekeres withdrew into the
well-fortified walls of Parliament. The parliamentary group developed
into a professionally managed institution, a remarkable achievement
taking into account that 209 elected politicians sit in Parliament,
representing a great variety of interests.
There have been no scandals about procedures, no public fights
between leading personalities in the leadership -something quite
unusual, especially compared to the government or other socialist
bodies like the Presidium of the Party. Szekeres, though publicly
loyal to Horn, defended the coalition between the Socialist Party and
the Alliance of Free Democrats at times when the prime minister
seemed determined to break up with his liberal partners.
In fact it was Szekeres who played a crucial role in forcing the
Prime Minister to give up tampering with the coalition by forging an
alliance between the presidiums of the Party and the Parliamentary
group. As a result, Szekeres found himself again in the top list of
candidates to succeed Horn. And this is exactly why signatures are
collected for new elections in the parliamentary caucus.
The convention in November will be soon followed by another
convention, in which party leadership will be elected that will take
the Socialist Party into the 1998 elections. Horn's future as prime
minister and party president will be one of the hottest topics at
The socialist elite, including the five socialist ministers who have
resigned from Horn's cabinet since 1994, and Sandor Nagy, the
resigned trade union boss, are all eager to build up positions to be
part of the '98 dream team'.
It seems that in 1994, socialist leaders all could agree on one
issue: Let's prevent Imre Szekeres from becoming the second man in
the party. Now that succession is not a matter of theory any more,
such an agreement will be more difficult to reach.
* * *
Tibor Vidos is a lobbyist and political consultant in charge of the
Budapest office of GJW Government Relations. > or
<CompuServe: 76702,2227> A version of this article appeared in the
Budapest Business Journal.
MAGYAR NET WATCH
In the news...
by Attila Beno
Copyright (c) 1995
Printed publications are slowly becoming old-fashioned. Well, maybe
that's not the case yet, but it's definitely true that more and more
newspapers and magazines go "on-line", and make their articles and
pictures available for the public. And there are some publications,
that ONLY exist in electronic
The "Hungarian electronic library" (Magyar Elektronikus Konyvtar) is
the place where you can find all (or at least most) of the
electronically published Hungary-repeated magazines. It can be found
It provides access to many periodicals including The Hungary Report.
One of these papers is the weekly 168 Ora at
which is a very popular political and cultural newspaper. You can
read most of the articles here, browse through back issues, and even
look at their cartoons.
Wow, these cartoons are great. Well, gotta go now. I have lots of
cartoons to look at... :-)
The Hungary Report is free to readers. To subscribe, send an email
message to the following Internet address:
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out sometimes : )
* * *
Back issues of The Hungary Report are available on the World-Wide Web
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* * *
ABOUT THE CO-EDITORS
Angels' Land, Budapest native Kriszta Fenyo > is a
researcher for the BBC World Service and BBC Television, (also
fledgling freelance TV producer for Reuters). She is also completing
her PhD in 19th century Scottish history. She has lived in Hungary on
and off since birth.
Whitefish, Montana native Jennifer C. Brown > reported
for the Budapest Business Journal for a year before joining the
Hungary Report. She also works as a freelance journalist for regional
and international business and foreign affairs publications. She has
lived in Hungary on and off since 1991.
* * *
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Feedback is welcome.
Rick E. Bruner, Creator >
Steven Carlson, Publisher >
Jennifer C. Brown, Co-editor >
Kriszta Fenyo, Co-editor >
Tibor Vidos, Parliament Watch >
Attila Beno, Magyar Net Watch >
* * *
For its briefs, The Hungary Report regularly consults the news
sources listed below -- for information about subscriptions, contact
them by email:
The Budapest Business Journal > &
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Budapest Week >
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