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Central Europe: The most important news from 6 to 12 September

V4

  • According to Oliver Hermes, managing director of the German company Wilo and president of the Federal Association of German Eastern Economics, who was quoted by Remix on September 3, the increasing tensions between Germany and the conservative Central European countries Hungary and Poland could “seriously hinder [German] growth, while Eastern Europe is becoming an important partner for German companies” and already a fifth of West German foreign trade. dels.

Hungary

  • According to a recent survey in twelve EU Member States, 88% of Hungarians feel free in their daily lives, while only 46% of Germans and 57% of Austrians share this opinion.
  • At its meeting on Wednesday, 8 September, the Hungarian government adopted a motion supporting Poland and condemning Brussels’ attitude towards Poland. In this context, Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga said on Facebook that the European Commission had “launched a brutal attack on Poland and interfered in an unprecedented way in the judicial and legislative process of a sovereign member state. This approach is not only outrageous, but also completely unacceptable […] With this outrageous and arrogant decision, the Commission has crossed a line that we previously thought unthinkable.
  • In an interview broadcast by SpiritFM on September 4, Hungarian Secretary of State for Support for Persecuted Christians, Tristan Azbej, stated that since the Taliban came to power in Kabul on August 15, between 8,000 and 10,000 Christian Afghans have already been forced to leave their country, with the new regime clearly seeking the physical liquidation of this religious minority. Of these, 700 were taken in by Hungary.
  • Summer is coming to an end and the beginning of the academic year is approaching, but this year it won’t be the same for everyone. The Semmelweis University of Medicine in Budapest announced on Thursday, September 9, that “students who refuse vaccination without good medical reason [… …] enroll at Semmelweis University, but may not begin their studies , [because] it is unacceptable and incompatible with the wishes of first-year students to endanger their vulnerable fellow human beings by not doing everything they can to protect themselves and their environment [and that] medical and health science education is inconceivable without practical instruction if the students are enrolled in pharmacies, learn and cooperate at the bedside or with the injured”. In practice, this means mandatory vaccination against Covid for all medical students.
  • The Hungarian tourism sector has been severely affected by the pandemic and health restrictions. The number of foreign tourists in Hungary fell by 70% in 2020 compared to 2019, which, according to the World Tourism Barometer, is roughly in line with the European trend: 66% in the first half of 2020 and even 97% in the second half of 2020. This trend continues this year.
  • The 52nd Eucharistic Congress (IEC 2020) took place this week in Budapest – the last event in Budapest took place in 1938. At the end of the event, Pope Francis celebrated a huge Mass in Heroes’ Square in front of tens of thousands of faithful, shortly after meeting for almost 40 minutes with the President of the Republic, as well as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén.

Poland

  • In line with its commitments to the Atlantic Alliance, Poland has agreed to take in 500 Afghan refugees for three months, with a maximum of 50 of them allowed to remain in the country permanently, as Michał Dworczyk, head of the Prime Minister’s Chancellery, explicitly stated. A first contingent of 114 Afghans therefore arrived from the US base in Ramstein in Poznań on the night of 3 to 4 September. Poland has already taken in Afghans who have worked for Polish services and their families, a total of 900 people.
  • After the left-wing opposition and the PO tabled a motion calling for the repeal of the presidential decree to impose a state of emergency in a border strip along the Polish-Belarusian border, a heated debate broke out in the Polish parliament on Monday, September 6, in which Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki recalled that Poland is dealing with a “large-scale political provocation, which concerns the attempt to push illegal migrants across the Polish border”. The Sejm finally refused (by 247 votes to 168 with 20 abstentions) to lift the state of emergency in the border area with Belarus.
  • In view of the European Commission’s new initiatives against Poland, there are many voices in Europe expressing their solidarity with Warsaw. After the Hungarian government passed a resolution to this effect, Spanish MEP Hermann Tertsch of the Vox movement declared: “In the next step of the constant ideological blackmail that the European Commission, led by Ursula von der Leyen, allows itself against Poland and Hungary, it was announced that the disbursement of funds from the reconstruction fund for both countries will be suspended. […] Of course, under the pretext of not meeting certain requirements. However, none of the treaties states that Member States must accept ideological pressure from the EU, such as the teaching of gender ideology in schools.B. And that is why this action is illegal […] it means slow suicide for the EU, because it wants to impose the policies of social democracy on all countries. […] The relentless persecution of Poland and Hungary continues. This is very bad news, not only for Poland and Hungary, but for the entire European Union and for all those who were still hoping for a common European project.
  • As part of the military maneuver “Lynx-21”, which took place from 5 to 20 September in Poland, the 12th Mechanized Division was transferred from Szczecin (Pomerania) – 4,000 soldiers and 1,000 vehicles – to the vicinity of Nowa Dęba in the Podkarpackie Voivodeship. The aim of this exercise is to test the capacity and speed of the deployment of troops.
  • The Deputy Mayor of Krakow, Jerzy Muzyk, announced the imminent establishment of a new district of the southern Polish metropolis, located 9 km from the city center, which will house 100,000 inhabitants on an area of 700 ha, including 65 ha of forest parks. The most important innovation of this project is that it will also be a “green city”: “We are trying to design the district in such a way that it meets today’s challenges such as the fight against climate change, environmental protection and the elimination of the so-called heat islands,” explained Mr. Muzyk.
  • After the sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya, who apparently had to be sent back to Minsk against her will after a dispute with her coaches during the Olympic Games in Tokyo, finally found refuge in Poland, the Warsaw authorities have now also granted asylum to the Belarusian rider Olga Safranova, who was also expelled from her national team after criticism of the Belarusian authorities. “If I hadn’t left Belarus, it would have been dangerous for me,” Safranova said.
  • After the Hungarians, now the Poles… After the match between England and Poland, on Wednesday 8 September in Warsaw, English player Kyle Walker complained about racist behaviour by Polish player Kamil Glik. The player denies the allegations.
  • From 7 to 9 September, the XXX Economic Forum took place in Karpacz (Krummhübel), Lower Silesia. With 4,500 participants, mainly from Central Europe, the Economic Forum is the largest event of its kind in post-socialist Europe and is often referred to by the press as the “Polish Davos”. Entrepreneurs, politicians, journalists and academics were able to present their views and discuss them freely at several conferences for three days.

Slovakia

  • According to a poll conducted by Median SK at the beginning of September and quoted by the daily Novinky, this weekend’s parliamentary elections in Slovakia would see former Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini’s Hlas-SD party, with 16.3% of the vote, ahead of their rival brother Smer-SD of Robert Fico (12.7%), the Liberals of Freedom and Solidarity (12.3%), the OL’aNO movement of Finance Minister Igor Matovič (10%), the conservatives of Sme Rodina (7.2%) and a new far-right party, Republika (5.4%), a split from marian Kotleba’s movement, which is expected to reach 3.3%.
  • On Wednesday, September 8, the cabinet of Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger officially apologized for the implementation of the “Jewish Code, which banned Slovak Jews from access to education and social life from September 9, 1941. “The government of the Slovak Republic today feels morally obliged to publicly express its regret at the crimes committed by the then state power, namely the adoption of a shameful decree restricting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens of Jewish origin,” Prime Minister Eduard Heger said in a statement.
  • Pope Francis arrived in Slovakia on Sunday, September 12, and will remain until Wednesday. During his visit at the invitation of the President of the Republic, the progressive Zuzana Čaputová, the Pope will visit Bratislava, Košice and Prešov.

Czech Republic

  • Slovenian Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj, whose country currently holds the EU Presidency, announced on Tuesday 7 September that “the Czech Republic […] can soon start implementing [their] Recovery and Resilience Plan”, which had been adopted by The European Finance Ministers the day before. This will enable the Czech Republic to receive the first tranche of the 180 billion crowns (7 billion euros) to which it is entitled.
  • As was made clear on 2 September at the launch of the ANO campaign in Ústí nad Labem (Aussig a.d. Elbe), relations between Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his son are not the best… Andrej Babiš Jr. told the press that he intended to file a criminal complaint against his father: “Crimes have been committed against me. My father has to answer for what he dared to do to me,” he declared, accusing in particular the Czech Prime Minister of having him kidnapped in Crimea in order to prevent him from talking about the alleged misappropriation of European funds in the so-called Stork’s Nest affair. For his part, Andrej Babiš Sr. categorically rejects his son’s accusations.
  • Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek travelled to Vilnius (Vilnius, Lithuania) on Tuesday 7 September, where he signed an agreement with Lithuanian Interior Minister Agnė Bilotaitė that the Czech Republic will provide half a million euros for the construction of the border fence on the Weilßrussian border.

Slovenia

  • 10.9. the Minister of Digitalization Mark Boris Andrijanič and State Secretary Mag. Peter Geršak met with the Minister of Slovenians Abroad, Helena Jaklitsch, and Dr. Jureto Leskovec to discuss the necessary changes to promote the return of Slovenian professionals. For many years, the emigration of young people abroad has been one of the most pressing problems of our country, as the economic situation has made it impossible to keep young people who have been educated in our country but have migrated to other countries because of better working conditions. According to the Statistical Office, the number of citizens who emigrated from Slovenia more than doubled between 2011 and 2017 – from 4005 (2011) to 8384 (2017). Of the more than 8,000 emigrants in 2017, about a third were highly educated.
  • 9.9. Prime Minister Janez Janša was awarded the 2020 Personality of the Year Award in Central and Eastern Europe at a ceremony at the 30th Economic Forum in Poland. In his keynote speech, he said, among other things, that “there is no strong European Union without a strong Central Europe. In fact, there is no real European Union without the countries of Central Europe. In fact, Central Europe is increasingly becoming what the name of our part of the continent implies. It is something central, both economically and in terms of values. Janša added that “the principles on which the founding fathers of the European Union, the vast majority of whom were Christian Democrats, founded the European Union, are rooted in the famous commandment of Saint Augustine. And this commandment is: unity in necessities, freedom in unexplained things, mercy in all things. Only on this foundation can we build a solid European building.”
  • 8.9 LGBT ideology is becoming more aggressive every year. Whereas in the past it was mainly found in American schools, it has now also found its way into European schools. 61.7% of respondents are opposed to the inclusion of same-sex content and the promotion of homosexual and transsexual content in Slovenian schools. This was the result of an opinion poll recently conducted by Parsifal on behalf of Nova24TV. The results of the survey, conducted by the opinion research institute Parsifal between 30 August and 2 September, show that the majority of respondents (44.7%) consider the inclusion of same-sex content and the promotion of homosexual and transsexual content in Slovenian schools to be unnecessary, while 32.0% of respondents consider this necessary. Considering that 17.0% of respondents think it is harmful, one can conclude that 61.7% of respondents have a “negative” opinion about it.
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