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četrtek, 13 maja, 2021

The most important news from April 26th to May 2nd in V4 & Central Europe

By UME

V4

  • In connection with the current Czech-Russian diplomatic crisis following the disclosure by the Czech government on April 17 about Russian involvement in the explosion of an ammunition depot in the Czech Republic in 2014, the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, whose country is currently chairing the Visegrád -Group urgently called a video conference of the V4 heads of government on Russia on Monday, April 26th. On the agenda of this meeting of the four Prime Ministers (Mateusz Morawiecki, Viktor Orbán, Andrej Babiš and Eduard Heger) was the escalation of Russian action in Central Europe, which threatens the common security of the countries in the region, in connection with the current Czech-Russian dispute, but also with the still extremely tense situation in eastern Ukraine. For their part, the V4 Foreign Ministers issued a joint communiqué in which they “condemn actions that threaten the security of sovereign states and their citizens and express their solidarity with the actions of the Czech Republic.
  • The feasibility study for the Budapest-Warsaw (HSR) high-speed train has just been completed. Work will begin in the early 2030s.
  • According to the European Commission on Friday, April 30th, computer tests will take place in 24 EU countries in May in order to implement the vaccination pass system from June 1st. Hungary, Belgium and Slovakia do not take part in these tests, so that their participation in the EU vaccination passport system can only be implemented later.

Hungary

  • The Hungarian government spokesman Gergely Gulyás said on April 25th on Radio Kossuth that Hungary would use most of the European rescue fund for the modernization and development of the health sector “to improve the quality of care across the country”.
  • Secretary of State for Taxes of the Hungarian Ministry of Finance, Norbert Izer, on Monday April 26th expressed the opposition of the Hungarian authorities to the proposal by US President Joe Biden to introduce a worldwide minimum corporate tax rate of 21%, which is currently 9% in Hungary % is.
  • The Chairman of the Hungarian Data Protection Authority, Attila Péterfalvi, said on Monday April 26th that “the [compulsory] presentation of the immunity card at the entrance [to shops] is constitutionally not a data protection problem as it is not linked to data collection”.
  • According to an online survey carried out by Kecskemét Poll and published on Magyar Jelen on Friday April 30th, 80% of the 3,218 respondents are against discrimination based on vaccination against Covid. Among those under thirty, this rejection is even at 86%. Several parties denounce the discrimination caused by the Covid Pass.
  • The Hungarian Parliament on Tuesday April 27th passed a major reform of the status of eleven public universities – Budapest University of Economics, Debrecen University, Dunaújváros University, Hungarian University of Dance Arts and Nyíregyháza University, University of Obuda, University Pécs, the Semmelweis University, the University of Szeged and the University of Physical Education – they are transferring assets worth billions of euros to foundations that will now be administered by the universities and some cultural institutions. The boards of directors of these foundations are appointed by the government. The left opposition shouts “theft of public funds” claiming that Viktor Orbán and Fidesz are taking over higher education,
  • The Hungarian Minister of Public Administration, Miklós Kásler, announced on Facebook on Wednesday April 28th that surgical interventions that do not require hospitalization could be performed again from Monday May 3rd.
  • The Hungarian Parliament passed a bill on Wednesday April 28th that exempts people under 25 from income tax. According to Family Minister Katalin Novák, this measure will benefit one million young taxpayers between the ages of 15 and 25.
  • Hungary and China have signed a new cooperation agreement to promote air travel as part of China’s New Silk Road project known as the Belt and Road (OBOR).
  • The Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó and his Romanian counterpart Bogdan Aurescu met on Wednesday at Almásy Castle in Gyula (Békés County) near the Romanian border and signed an agreement to revitalize the joint committee on minority issues. “The committee last met in 2011, but the current agreement, in which the points of contention are also set out, also enables the joint discussion and resolution of questions that were previously considered unsolved,” explained Szijjártó. In addition, the two men agreed to open two new permanent border crossings in the same county – between Elek (Aletea) and Ottlaka (Grăniceri) near Gyula and between Dombegyház and Kisvarjas (Variașu Mic).
  • According to the figures published on Wednesday, April 28th, the unemployment rate in Hungary was exactly 4.0% at the end of March, 0.5% higher than at the end of March 2020, but 0.4% lower than at the end of February 2021. The highest of Unemployment continues to affect young people between the ages of 15 and 24 with a rate of 13.6% (+ 2.4% in one year).
  • The Hungarian Foreign and Trade Minister Péter Szijjártó and the Slovak Finance Minister Igor Matovič jointly inaugurated a power transmission line between Hungary and neighboring Slovakia on Thursday, April 29, in Gönyű (Győr-Moson-Sopron County) on the Danube. Szijjártó stated that with “the one and a half kilometers long transmission lines between Gönyű and Gabčíkovo (Bős) and the 23 kilometers long transmission lines between Sajóivánka [in northeastern Hungary] and Rimavská Sobota (Rimaszombat) the two countries have connected their transmission lines at two points.
  • The Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó announced on Facebook today, Thursday, April 29, the conclusion of an agreement on the free movement of persons between Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro – i.e. the mutual recognition of Covid-19 vaccination certificates between the three countries. “Today we agreed with the Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selaković and the Montenegrin Foreign Minister Đorđe Radulović that our vaccination certificates will be mutually recognized and that vaccinated people will be able to travel freely between Hungary and Serbia as well as Hungary and Montenegro from tomorrow. […] We have also started negotiations with Greece and Israel on this matter and we will provide information as soon as it becomes available, ”said Szijjártó.
  • Since Saturday, May 1st, restaurants, hotels, theaters, cinemas, spas, fitness studios, libraries, museums and other entertainment venues have been reopened in Hungary … but only for people who have the Covid-19 immunity card, the famous vaccination card , are. For the others, the imprisonment continues. The operators of the facilities are obliged to respect this de facto discrimination under threat of fines, which can range from 200,000 to 3 million forints (550 to 8,300 euros). The same applies to employees without a vaccination certificate who do not wear a mask. In some cases, an administrative closure of the facilities mentioned can be declared for up to a year.
  • According to a report by the automobile magazine Vezess on April 22nd, plainclothes police officers will be responsible from May to track down pedestrians who cross the street illegally or at red lights and to impose fines of 5,000 to 150,000 forints (14 to 410 euros).

Poland

  • At the initiative of PiS chairman Jarosław Kaczyński, a meeting of the leaders of the United Rights ruling coalition took place on Sunday 25 April to iron out the differences within the Polish ruling coalition, a meeting that some call a “last chance”, The situation between the PiS and its two small allies (Porozumienie and Solidarna Polska) is so tense that the latter cannot hold their position in the Sejm alone and fear that they will no longer have seats on the PiS list in the next elections. At the end of the meeting, the Chairman of the PiS Executive Committee Krzysztof Sobolewski said, that “all parties are convinced of the positive effects of the actions of the united right since the double victory in the 2015 elections and of their willingness to conclude a program agreement for 2021-2023. Corresponding steps will be initiated in the next few days ”.
  • These disagreements within the coalition are effectively delaying the ratification of the European economic recovery plan by the Sejm.Some – like MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski (PiS) – fear that Poland – like other European countries – will not be able to implement its national economic recovery plan on time – the normal deadline was originally April 30th – and that this delay could mean that Poland receives its share of the stimulus package (€ 23.9 billion in grants and € 32.3 billion in loans) later . “We can expect further disruptions in this direction,” he said in an interview with Gazeta Polska.
  • The Polish Minister of Infrastructure Andrzej Adamczyk announced on Tuesday (April 27) the signing of an agreement for the second stage of the Vistula Canal project. “The contract for the second stage of this investment […] enables us to reconstruct the Elbląg river channel over a distance of 10 kilometers. Thanks to this agreement, a swing bridge will also be installed over the Elbląg ”.
  • Jarosław Kaczyński’s PiS finally found a solution this Tuesday, April 27, to ensure the ratification of the European economic recovery plan by the Sejm. For once, it was the Lewica (Die Linke) coalition with which Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki finally reached an agreement, while Solidarna Polska, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro’s party, insisted that they would vote against this ratification in parliament, as they already did within the government had done.
  • According to a recent survey by the IBRiS institute published on April 28th, 67% of Poles get their information from the Internet, 38% from Polsat, 36% from Fakty TVN, 33% from public television TVP, 29, 5% from social networks, 29% from the radio and only 12% from the written press. Marcin Duma of the IBRiS Institute also points out that “the opposition voter is very careful not to get any information that might upset him,” while the average PiS voter “has no problem seeing what is on TVN [ …] United Right voters are open because they trust them, they know they are right. This is clearly visible on the Internet […] You are fighting for Poland. When you fight for the truth, you feel good. “
  • According to a new regulation of the European Union, ID cards issued from August 2nd of next year must indicate the gender chosen by the document holder (male, female or different). Poland has decided to ignore this “innovation”: “The whole point of the European regulation is to improve the security of identifiers and to standardize organizational and technical problems, but not to revolutionize the worldview. When it comes to denoting gender, there are only men or women in the Polish legal system. Therefore there will only be two genders on the identity cards. The European Union cannot order us to introduce something that is incompatible with the Polish legal order ”, therefore said Deputy Minister of the Interior Paweł Szefernaker. The PO doesn’t hear it that way, and MP Alexandra Gajewska has already announced that her party will take all necessary measures to force the Polish government to put a third gender on identification documents, in accordance with EU rules.
  • Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced the next steps towards reopening on Wednesday March 28th.
  • From May 1st, some outdoor and indoor sports activities are possible.
  • From May 4th, shopping centers, hardware stores and furniture stores can reopen according to the requirements of the health ordinance.
  • From May 4th, the art galleries and museums that are under the health regime will resume their activities.
  • From May 4th, children in the first three grades of primary school will return to school.
  • The hotels will resume operations on May 8th.
  • On May 15th, the restaurants and street cafes will start operating again.
  • From May 15, pupils in upper elementary school classes and high school classes can resume hybrid classes.
  • From May 15, events such as weddings and communions can be held outdoors with a limit of 25 people.
  • From May 29th, all classes will go back to school all day.
  • From May 29th it will be possible to offer catering services within the premises in accordance with the rules of the health regime.
  • In the face of an unprecedented avian flu outbreak (262 outbreaks), the Polish health authorities decided on Wednesday April 28th to cull more than six million birds. “It is the first time that we have faced such a serious crisis,” said Andrzej Danielak from the Polish Association of Poultry Breeders and Producers. “So far 65 outbreaks have been the largest number [per year], and now we’ve already exceeded 200.”
  • The Polish government decided on Thursday April 29th to set up a company to take over the coal-fired power plants from their current operators, Tauron, PGE and Enei. These are combined in a National Agency for Energy Security (NABE), which is responsible for the construction and operation of gas-fired power plants, which are primarily operated with Russian gas and which are supposed to replace coal-fired power plants as soon as possible. This legal regulation is necessary in order to obtain the necessary credits for the implementation of this major energy transition project without the electricity price rising too much for the end consumer.
  • The city council of the city of Kraśnik (Lublin Voivodeship, Eastern Poland) decided on Thursday, April 29, under pressure from Norway, to repeal the resolution passed two years ago in which it speaks out against the “LGBT ideology”. “With the repeal [of this resolution] we can take a very big step towards overcoming our image crisis,” said the city’s mayor, Wojciech Wilk (PO). “Fair or not, we don’t get a lot of sympathy. […] If we repeal this resolution, we have a better chance of getting external funding in the future. […] I mean mainly Norwegian funds, ”he added, noting that these grants amounted to 35 million zlotys (7.7 million euros).
  • The editor-in-chief of the conservative Polish weekly Do Rzeczy, Paweł Lisicki, said in an interview on Radio Wnet on Friday (April 30) that the vaccination certificate proposed by the European Union was “authoritarianism”. “If we continue on this path, we will find ourselves in the situation of a total bureaucracy of experts and a drastic restriction of civil liberties, ie everything that is contained not only in the law, but also in the real meaning and purpose of the existence of free societies and states He explained. “There are already expert voices who say that people who do not want to be vaccinated are being persecuted or their basic rights are being deprived, such as. B. the freedom of movement, the possibility to go to the cinema or to a restaurant,
  • According to figures from the European agency Eurostat published on Friday April 30th, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Poland stood at 3.1% at the end of March, making it the lowest in the entire European Union, with the Czech Republic and the Netherlands in second and third place respectively. The unemployment rate at the end of March was 7.3% in the EU as a whole and 8.1% in the euro area.
  • Polish scientists have found that an Egyptian mummy, which is on display in the Polish National Museum in Warsaw, which was previously believed to be the mummy of the then governor of an Egyptian province, is actually that of a pregnant woman, since one X-ray examination of a fetus had been discovered in her abdomen. This is the first time a mummy that was the embalmed body of a pregnant woman has been found.

Slovakia

  • The decision of the Slovak government to expel three Russian diplomats as a sign of solidarity with the Czech Republic, whose national sovereignty was allegedly violated by the Russian secret services, is not unanimously supported by the opposition. Former Prime Minister Robert Fico accused Eduard Heger of doing the US a favor, saying the Prime Minister and his allies looked like “rain-soaked mice … and they knew why.” Because they obey American orders ”. For its part, on Wednesday April 28, Russia ordered the expulsion of seven diplomats from Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in retaliation.
  • On Monday, April 26th, the Slovak Environment Minister Ján Budaj (OL’aNO) signed a decree classifying the wolf as a protected animal in Slovakia. From June 1st it will be forbidden to hunt, catch, kill, keep or breed them.

Czech Republic

  • An audit by the European Commission, released on April 24, shows that Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš may be opposing through his control of trust funds linked to his Agrofert business empire, which receives hundreds of millions of euros in EU grants Has violated EU conflict of interest rules. Mr Babiš denies these allegations in all forms: “I fully adhered to this Lex Babiš, which only served to keep me out of politics. …] I transferred the former company to trust funds, ”he denounced a“ deliberate and manipulated audit that was artificially provoked by professional whistleblowers from the Pirate Party … It was the auditors, who, based on the allegations of this psychopath [Lukáš Wagenknecht, a former Treasury officer], manipulated the exam to harm me. The Commission’s report notes that the conflict of interest persists as Babiš appoints the directors of the Agrofert group, still has a “direct economic interest in the success” of the company and decides on EU subsidies for the company.
  • After Poland, Slovakia and the Baltic states, the Romanian government decided on Monday, April 26th, to appoint a Russian diplomat – in this case Alexei Grishchayev, the deputy military attaché of the Russian embassy in Bucharest – as a token of solidarity with the Czechs Republic to expel. For its part, the Ukrainian government proposed that the 20 Czech diplomats who were expelled by Russia in retaliation be transferred to the Czech embassy in Kiev, while Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba on Twitter “expressed the strong support of Ukraine in relation to the hostile actions of Russia in Czech Territory […] Ukraine invites the Czech diplomats expelled from Moscow to to work in Kiev and to strengthen the Czech diplomatic presence in our country [. …] We stand by our Czech friends.
  • Still in the context of the current Czech-Russian diplomatic crisis, when the Czech government announced that the Russian company Rosatom would be excluded from the tender for the expansion of the nuclear power plant in Dukovany, the Russian authorities struck back by announcing on April 25 that that “appropriate economic sanctions” would be taken in retaliation against the Czech Republic, with the Kremlin declaring that “unprecedentedly aggressive actions by Prague cannot go without a response. In this case, Moscow is considering drastically reducing imports from the Czech Republic, especially beer.
  • On Thursday, April 29th, the Czech Parliament passed a law to legalize “same-sex marriage”. The bill was introduced on the initiative of MP Barbora Koranová (ANO).
  • Czech Airlines, which has been bankrupt since February due to anti-Covid measures, announced on Friday April 30th that it was reducing its staff from 430 to 100 employees. The company will now operate two aircraft (compared to twenty before the Covid crisis).
  • In response to the European sanctions in the Navalny case, the Russian authorities decided to take counter-sanctions and ban eight European Union officials, including Czech Vice-President of the European Commission, Věra Jourová. “I’m just happy to be in such good company. I will continue to stand up for human rights, media freedom and democracy. Russia’s efforts to spread disinformation and undermine human rights deserve a resolute response, ”she said in an initial response on Twitter. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, in a joint statement condemned “the decision […] of the Russian authorities to prohibit eight EU citizens from entering Russian territory. This approach is unacceptable, has no legal basis and is completely unfounded.
  • The Prague police opened an investigation into an alleged “illegal party” on the roof of the Prague Archdiocese on Hradčanské Square on Tuesday, April 27th, at which, among others, Archbishop Dominik Duka, his secretary Vojtěch Mátl, the head of the Presidential Protection, Martin Baláž, and the head of the Prague-Venice Society, Zdeněk Bergman, are said to have attended.
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