Ruling Fidesz has called on Hungary’s opposition MEPs to reject the Sargentini report in a vote in the European Parliament next week, a lawmaker of the party said on Sunday. In the upcoming vote “pro-migrant forces will seek to outcast Hungary and the Hungarian people for their stance rejecting migrants overall,” László Böröcz told a press conference. He added that Hungarian opposition MEPs will have a chance to show whether they stand on the side of pro-migration groups or the Hungarian people. Böröcz called the report authored by Green MEP Judith Sargentini a “political pamphlet” prepared to attack Hungary “with help from the Soros empire”. He called it “farcical” that “a comprehensive report was prepared by an MEP about the situation in Hungary who had visited the country only twice or three times and states criticism over issues that Hungary and the European Commission had settled a long time ago”. According to the report there is a “clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values of the European Union”. The EP is scheduled to vote on the report approved in June by the EP’s civil liberties committee (LIBE) on September 12.
(10. 09. 2018 – via dailynewshungary.com)
Poland’s Civic Platform and Nowoczesna parties have promised free public transport for children, a drive to cut smog and help for OAPs ahead of the country’s upcoming local government elections.
The two parties, which are in opposition in parliament, on Saturday held a joint convention in the run-up to the autumn ballot. The convention took place in Warsaw.
Meanwhile, among the proposals of ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party ahead of the vote are a home insulation scheme aimed at lowering electricity bills, higher aid for seniors and a high-speed internet connection across Poland.
One of the proposals put forward by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki at a PiS convention in Warsaw last Sunday was to earmark PLN 300 million (EUR 70m, USD 81.5m) for so-called participatory budgets, which give citizens a say in public spending, Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.
Poles will head to the ballot box to vote in local government elections on October 21.
The second round of voting for mayors, aldermen and other local government officials will be held on November 4.
(09. 09. 2018 – via thenews.pl)
Final 24 August, 2018
Political seminar on
challenges in Europe in
the 21st century
Balatonfüred Conference Centre
Organised by the TihanyCenter for Political Analysis
Proposed programme of arrangements
Day 0– Thursday, 30 August 2018
|–18:00||Arrival in Balatonfüred, check-in|
|appr. 19:00||Welcoming words by former Foreign Minister Géza Jeszenszky, followed by the usual ice-breaking party in Baricska Csárda, the most famous restaurant in the Balaton area, providing excellent food and view of the lake.|
Day 1 – Friday, 31 August 2018
|08:30 – 09:15||Breakfast at the Conference Centre and at the hotel|
|09:30 – 10:30||Opening Lecture “Central Europe Today: Consolidating or Splitting? “ (Géza Jeszenszky)|
|10:30 – 11:00||Break|
|11:00 – 12:00||Debate on “The world challenges in 2018” by György Odze, Director of Tihany Centre and Pongrác Dús, foreign affairs expert, Advanced College for Security Policy|
|12:00 – 13:00||Lunch|
|13:00 – 14:00||II. Lecture (Kai-Olaf Lang) Party Politics in Flux: The Changing Faces of Political Parties and Party Systems in the EU and in Central Europe|
|14:30 – 15:30||I. Workshop|
|15:30 – 18:30||Sightseeing in Balatonfüred (optional), or a quick dip in lake Balaton (check tips in “Best of Balatonfüred and Tihany” to be sent later this week)|
|18:30 – 19.30||Dinner (Baricska)|
|19.30 –||Country presentations, team building|
Day 2 – Saturday, 1 September, 2018
|8:30 – 09:15||Breakfast|
|09:30 – 10:30||IV. Lecture (Małgorzata Bonikowska) “Europe and the world. The new disorder”.|
|11:00 – 12:00||II. Workshop|
|12:00 – 13:00||Lunch|
|13:00 – 14:00||V. Lecture (Gábor Szentiványi): Additions to/comments on current party political tendencies.|
|14:30- 18:00||Free time, visit Tihany – trip is organised, participation optional|
|18:30 – 19:30||Dinner (Baricska)|
Day 3 – Sunday, 2 September 2018
|10:30 – 12:30||Debates, Q&A session|
|12:30 – 13:30||Farewell lunch in the Conference Centre (infornal)|
According to Mikó Imre Minority Rights Legal Aids Service, two legislative proposals containing minority-friendly provisions have recently been passed in the Romanian Parliament, both waiting to be officially signed by President Klaus Iohannis. One concerns an amendment to the 2011 Law on Education, which stipulates that a linguistic minority must be consulted whenever the issue of establishing, re-organising or closing an educational institution of that linguistic community is raised. This amendment is especially welcome by the Hungarian community in Romania, since it would preempt situations like the one of the Catholic school in Tîrgu Mure?/Marosvásárhely, the fate of which is still uncertain. However, the President has so far refused to promulgate the law, invoking a few passages in the text of the law that are ambiguous, according to Iohannis, including the term “linguistic minority”.
However, the President has so far refused to promulgate the law, invoking a few passages in the text of the law that are ambiguous, according to Iohannis, including the term “linguistic minority”.
We find it regrettable that the President, himself a member of a linguistic minority, namely the German/Sachsen community in Romania, would use his power to block a piece of legislation that would be beneficial to all minority communities in Romania.
The other proposal concerns the new Administrative Code, which contains certain passages that would advance the issue of linguistic rights for minorities. The Civic Forum of Romanians from Covasna, Harghita and Mure? Counties addressed a letter to President Klaus Iohannis, in which they asked him not to promulgate this law, because according to them it will undermine the status of Romanian as the official language of the country. As formulated by Erika Benkő, the head of the Mikó Imre Minority Rights Legal Services Assistance: “I find it unacceptable that in the 21st century someone can be disturbed by the fact that others use their mother tongue. The Hungarian community in Transylvania represents a cultural asset for Romania. It is very hurtful and also unacceptable that there are people who would like to curb our basic rights.”
(26. 07. 2018 via dailynewshungary.com)
Following a recent meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, after which Trump was accused of being soft on Russia, Czaputowicz said John Bolton assured him that there would be no shift in Washington’s attitude towards Moscow and that Polish and regional security would be guaranteed, IAR reported.
Czaputowicz also spoke to Bolton about military partnership, Russia’s planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and the Polish president’s future trip to the US.
Czaputowicz said the US was against Nord Stream 2, a pipeline which will send Russian gas to Germany via the Baltic Sea, bypassing Poland and other countries in the region, because the project will have negative geopolitical effects.
The project is also opposed by Poland.
The Polish foreign minister also said that Polish President Andrzej Duda will visit the White House later this year.
A decision on whether the US will boost its troop numbers in Poland is also expected later this year, Czaputowicz said.
“We are prepared to take part in the cost of developing infrastructure to accommodate American troops in Poland,” Czaputowicz told Polish Radio.
(27. 07. 2018 via thenews.pl)
One of our special guest is Małgorzata Bonikowska. Dr. Bonikowska will speak on Saturday (1st September) at 9:30.
Centre for International Relations /THINKTANK centre for dialogue and analysis
Political scientist and EU expert, President of Centre for International Relations (www.csm.org.pl) – a leading Polish independent think tank in foreign affairs – as well as a co-founder of the THINKTANK centre for dialogue and analysis (www.mttp.pl). She specializes in European studies and international affairs.
Graduated from University of Warsaw (Italian studies), University of Paris Sorbonne (history and political studies) and Polish Academy of Performing Arts (history of culture), she finished two Ph.D. programmes in Poland and abroad as well as attended specialisation studies at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at the Columbia University in New York, within the Fulbright Program.
Between the years 1995-1998, she was editor in the Polish Public Television,than moved the Polish Ministry of European Integration (UKIE) as director of the European Information Centre. In 2001-2007, she was working for the European Commission, chairing the EC’s Information and Communication Program, first in Poland and then in Bulgaria. In 2007, she was responsible for launching a government’s Human Resources Development Centre (CRZL)under the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies.
In the same time, Dr Bonikowska has been continuing academic career as a lecturer and researcher, tutor of MA and BA thesis, as well as a government advisor. She is an author of over a hundred publications.
There will be another interesting lecture at our summer seminar held by Kai-Olaf Lang on Friday (31st August 2018; 11.00-12.00).
Kai-Olaf Lang is a researcher (Senior Fellow) at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) [Foundation for Science and Politics], Berlin. He is an expert on the foreign and security policies of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.
We are looking forward to Professor Lang’s analysis about the CEE region!
SUPERPOWERS COME AND GO
The last thousands of years taught us many things, of which there is something to examine when thinking about the leader states of present and future World. In history, humankind had many superpowers among all the people; those enjoying privileges never thought their position would be at risk. Their fortune helped them acquire wide borders for their countries, drive others into yoke, and benefit from not only their own, but other nations’ economy. However, ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Romans, German-Romans are all gone forever. The Nazis and the Soviets are also parts of the dark history, and yet, the United States of America had been the sole international rule-maker for only a bit more than a decade after the iron curtain fell.
Since then, the Russian Federation is hiking to the peak once again, and the Democratic Republic of China is stronger than ever before, and their goals are still dimensions above their present international influence. We can also take notice of a new and yet strange friendship in the Middle East, involving Turkey and Iran. These two are also stepping closer to Russia, but knowing their relations in history, it is still undecided what to predict in their mutual future.
THE BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE, A PIXEL IN THE PICTURE
The vision of processes is much clearer, if we have a look at China. While for example Turkey, Iran, North Korea or Japan are taking actions to step forward in their regions, China – just as the USA and Russia – is dreaming for more. Not only dreaming, they are acting with more dynamism than any other power recently. The sum of China’s Foreign Direct Investments has been intensely growing in the past decades, reaching al time high in December 2017. These data show us a clear picture of their intentions and endeavors; there must be a strong verdict and very strict implementation behind these processes.
As we Europeans hear about the New Belt and Road Initiative every day, we can easily mislead ourselves by thinking that this strategy is everything China is following now. And really, they put big effort into Belt and Road, as it is crucial for them to sell their goods to Europe and Asia to keep up their fast-growing, already seeming to be peaking economy, which is waited by many to collapse very soon. Others, whose opinion is more comfortable to share for me, think that the superpower has its own tools to defend their budget.
The BaR Initiative focuses on Eurasia, but this is simply a step forward in selling their goods mainly to developed European countries. Nowadays, when the EU rulers are starting to limit Chinese investment into the old continent, and also to withdraw investments and factories from China, we can clearly see that the main pillar of China’s future economy is not only this Initiative, but there have to be many more ideas in their books. Even if they are expected to reach huge incomes from the New Belt and Road Strategy, most of their hopes are relying on other parts of the World.
CLOSER TO THE OPPONENTS
China perceived very well how to strengthen their international economic influence in the 21st century. Not like a hundred years ago, today you can’t operate with aggression when making friends. As the Russians also turned their harsh behavior lower since the Cold War ended and started to manipulate media, China’s most important weapon is their generous dollar policy. Either planning for long-term, or optimizing present positions, they are always likely to use money to satisfy their intentions. One region to watch is the Caribbean, where they are building infrastructure for free, or by issuing free loans for the constructions. Clearly, they can’t really demand much from these new friends; Caribbean countries are small islands with small population and without too many natural resources. The Chinese government simply follows the Soviet Union by making close friends near to the United States. For that they don’t even have to fund guerrilla wars, only to spend some money for the benefit of ordinary people of the region.
EVEN CLOSER TO THE DOWNS OF TODAY, UPS OF TOMORROW
One region is even more important, as the basis of China’s future influence, and that is Africa. Western countries still keen to think of poor African countries as places to ignore. To where we have to send aid and support, and from where we will never get anything back (except some lucky businessmen who benefit from taking advantage of the poor people there – for example miners). China looks at them from the other side of the road, and from the other aspect of history. While Africa is an unsolved problem for Western civilization, it is the biggest possible opportunity for China. They think of these countries as those who will develop very fast soon, then vigorously join the international circulation of money.
And then, these countries will make friendships, and that’s what China perfectly found out. Why not to make friends before it seems to be out of interest? So they decided to fund constructions – building hospitals, schools, highways, ports – so intense that the continent had never seen before.
China sponsors students majoring in medicine, engineering, economics and journalism.These students tend to move home after their university studies, mainly because of Chinese visa policy. Therefore, it means no brain-drain for those countries who need experts the most. The country is very popular among African students, and they are grateful for the opportunity, without which they would probably never had graduated.Not like China, other countries keep good students after their studies, which further destructs Africa’s future. China sends them home, building a better – and of course China-friendly – Africa. Someday, the so-called black continent will be an equal partner to the developed world, over and above, with Chinese-speaking economic, political elites.
Africa is also the pathfinder of Chinese military spread, as the superpower opened its first ever military base abroad in Djibouti last year.
If we look back on the past two decades, when China quietly started to conquer the World, we conclude that their diplomacy, even if it’s not classical Scandinavian diplomacy, but maybe as effective, as the one of Sweden or Norway. The next two decades will answer us, whether China could keep up economically with its challenges – at home and abroad – or will struggle with its old population, big debt and maybe badly used foreign investments. My bet is on their success.