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Central Europe: The most important news from 13 to 19 September


  • Before his trip to Slovakia, Pope Francis stopped in Budapest for a few hours to attend the closing Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress and meet Hungarian President János Áder and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. On this occasion, he offered a facsimile of the letter from 1254 sent by the Hungarian King Béla IV to Pope Innocent IV, in which he described the dangers to which Hungary was exposed at that time. A delicate situation that, in the opinion of Deputy Minister and State Secretary Balázs Orbán, is not without similarities with our time.
  • The Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Péter Szijjártó, announced on his Facebook account on Monday, September 13, that the Chinese company Semcorp will invest 65 billion forints (185 million euros) in the construction of a new battery factory for electric vehicles in Debrecen (Hajdú-Bihar county), which will employ 440 people.
  • According to the business magazine Portfolio, on Tuesday, September 14, the Hungarian Sovereign Debt Administration (ÁKK) took out two loans of 2.25 billion dollars with a term of ten years and an interest rate of 2.29%, as well as two billion dollars with a term of thirty years and an interest rate of 1.855%. These two loans are intended in part to offset the European Commission’s freeze on the Hungarian Economic Recovery Fund, but are mainly intended to pre-finance debt and expand infrastructure, pensions and education. On Tuesday, 15 September, Hungary issued additional bonds worth EUR 1 billion to raise further funds.
  • The year 2020, marked by the coronavirus pandemic and the restriction of freedoms, led to a 10% increase in the suicide rate in Hungary (+13% for men and +1% for women). This number had never risen so sharply since the fall of the communist regime.
  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán visited Slovenia on Thursday 16 September, where he met with his Slovenian counterpart Janez Janša and opened the 53rd International Crafts Fair in Celje. “Slovenia has always been considered a Central European country like ours, and if we work together, if we join forces, our two countries, along with all of Central Europe, will be among the winners of the new global economic era,” he said on the occasion.
  • The City of Budapest and the Central European University (CEU) organised a conference on sustainable democracy in Budapest on 16 and 17 September with numerous international speakers.
  • The United Opposition primaries, which are to elect a single candidate to defeat Orbán in 2022, began on September 18. However, due to a computer problem, the corresponding website did not work the whole weekend.


  • Following English accusations of racism against Kamil Glik during the Poland-England match on 8 September, the Polish player and his wife Marta Glik received insults and death threats in English, which were published in the Polish press and caused outrage.
  • Two weeks before the federal elections, which will end her almost 16-year term as German head of government, Chancellor Angela Merkel paid a final official visit to Warsaw on Saturday, September 11.
  • On Sunday, September 12, Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, beatified two great personalities of the Polish Catholic Church of the 20th century at a Mass in the Temple of Divine Providence in Warsaw: Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński and Elżbieta Róża Czacka (Mother Elisabeth), founder of the Franciscan Sisters of the Cross, for their service to the blind.
  • The Polish Government Commissioner for the Energy Network, Piotr Naimski, announced on Monday, September 13, on Radio Warszawa that Poland will not renew its gas supply contract with Gazprom, as the Baltic Pipe will be operational from October 2022 and will thus be able to supply 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually from Norway to Poland, covering two-thirds of the country’s current consumption. while the rest comes from domestic production. In addition, the plants in Świnoujście will be expanded by 2033 to absorb American and Qatari gas. Poland is no longer dependent on Russian gas and now has the opportunity to emancipate itself from its powerful neighbour in the energy sector as well.
  • In an interview with the Polish Catholic broadcaster Radio Marya, German Cardinal Gerhard Müller said of the tensions between Brussels and Warsaw: “We live in a tragic farce in which the European institutions criticize Poland and Hungary in the name of European values. These so-called ‘values’ invent the right to kill unborn children or to change gender […] I think it is a great injustice that people in the West, who have no idea what is happening in Poland and who receive huge sums of money from the European institutions, rebuke Polish citizens. I call on all Poles not to allow such vanity and impunity […] Poland is not a child who should be reprimanded by incompetent Western politicians.”
  • On Wednesday 15 September, the European Parliament again debated “Media freedom and the further deterioration of the rule of law in Poland”. On this occasion, the Vice-President of the European Commission, Věra Jourová, stated that the Polish Government’s responses to the continuation of the activities of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court were inadequate: “The Commission has decided to ask the Court to impose financial sanctions on Poland in order to enforce the order for interim measures of 14 July. The Commission requests the Court of Justice to impose a daily penalty payment on Poland until the relevant measures have been fully implemented by Poland.” Jourová also expressed concern about the so-called Lex TVN law.
  • Former Prime Minister and current MEP Beata Szydło (PiS) sharply criticised the European Commission’s “Fit for 55” plan, which she believes would lead to a drastic deterioration of the European economy, the loss of many jobs and “poverty for millions of Europeans”. The plan is to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030 and to make the European Union “climate neutral” by 2050.
  • According to a poll published on Wednesday 15 September by the Centre for Opinion Research on television news and current affairs, 38% of Poles consider Polsat and Polsat News programmes to be credible (compared with 17% who consider them not credible), 36% those of TVN and TVN24 (against 27%) and only 25% those of the public television channel TVP (compared to 49%).
  • Medical personnel in Poland have been on strike for several days. They are calling for an increase in wages and salaries and, more generally, in health expenditure in the state budget, which they believe should be at least 7-8% of spending, which would even be below the EU average of 10%. The strikers refuse to negotiate with Health Minister Adam Niedzielski, with whom the talks of recent months have been inconclusive, and demand that negotiations be held directly with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who has not responded to this proposal. As far as salaries in this profession are concerned, 9% of Polish doctors seem to be willing to leave their country because of income problems, while in Poland there are already very few doctors: only 238 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to an average of 388 throughout the European Union.
  • On Thursday 16 September, the European Parliament adopted, by 502 votes to 149 with 36 abstentions, a resolution calling on the Polish Prime Minister not to call into question the primacy of European law over national law and again calling on the European Commission to open infringement proceedings against Poland over the reforms of the Polish judicial system, in particular, it accuses Poland of having “deliberately and systematically violated the judgments and orders of the ECJ on the rule of law”.
  • In the face of persistent rumours that the PiS wants Poland to leave the European Union, PiS President Jarosław Kaczyński reiterated that there would be “no Polexit”.


  • As part of his pastoral visit to Slovakia on Wednesday, September 15, Pope Francis recalled that “the Church has no reason to change her doctrine that marriage is a sacrament that takes place between a man and a woman,” since homosexual partnerships “have nothing to do with marriage as a sacrament between a man and a woman.”

Czech Republic

  • On Sunday, September 12, at the express request of Ukraine, Russian citizen Alexander Franchetti, who lives in the Czech Republic, was arrested and detained at Prague Airport. He was accused of leading a militia involved in the events leading up to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, shortly after the Ukrainian revolution. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russia had “detailed information on the reasons for the actions of the Czech authorities” towards its citizen. “We warned the ambassador that the continuation of Prague’s destructive line towards Russia and its citizens at the initiative of the Czech side will lead to a further deterioration of bilateral relations.”


  • According to a Memorandum of Understanding signed on Monday 13 September, Croatia, which is preparing to join the euro area on 1 January 2023, is now allowed to produce Croatian euro coins. In sixteen months, Croatia will be the twentieth European country to use the euro as its national currency. Bulgaria is expected to follow in 2024.


  • On Friday, 18.09., there was a shooting in the BTC shopping center in Ljubljana. Two of those injured in the shooting are Roma and old police acquaintances, but it is also believed to have been a shootout between criminals.
  • On Wednesday, 15.09., a protest event took place against the new restrictions to contain the coronavirus and the introduction of PCT certificates (recovered, vaccinated, tested) for access to various facilities, shopping malls and the like. The protest against the measures, which took place in Ljubljana on the Republic Square in front of the Parliament, turned violent in the evening. The rioters threw granite stones and other objects that damaged the parliament building and were beaten down by the police with water cannons. Several police officers and protesters were injured. Islamists were also seen at the protests.
  • On Wednesday 15 September, Prime Minister Janez Janša and a delegation of ministers met in Celje (Cilli) with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and a delegation of Hungarian ministers. After the opening ceremony, the Slovenian and Hungarian Prime Minister held bilateral talks in which they discussed the areas of cooperation between the two countries and the possibilities for deepening them. Separate bilateral talks were also held with other ministers present.
  • On Wednesday 15 September, Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek presented joint projects after a joint meeting of the Slovenian and Hungarian governments in Celje. Together with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó, he rated economic cooperation and relations between the two countries as very good.
  • On Tuesday, 13 September, the Minister of Economic Development and Technology, Zdravko Počivalšek, and the Minister for Slovenians Abroad and in the World, Dr Helena Jaklitsch, signed the programme to promote the economic base of the indigenous Slovenian ethnic group in Hungary for the period 2021-2024.

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