Posts Tagged ‘Hungary.’

Hong Kong firms join forces to make deals under Silk Road plan

June 19, 2017

Companies will draw on their experience to initially establish infrastructure projects and industrial parks in Thailand and Vietnam

By Josh Ye
South China Morning Post

Monday, June 19, 2017, 8:48pm

Hong Kong companies will form a consortium to build infrastructure projects and industrial parks in Thailand and Vietnam under mainland China’s Silk Road project, the Trade Development Council says.

Council president Vincent Lo Hong-sui said over 40 business leaders from Hong Kong and Shanghai formed a delegation while visiting the two countries last month and met both prime ministers.

He added that this was one of many steps in further involving Hong Kong companies with the “One Belt, One Road” initiative.

Lo said the statutory body was now forming “a consortium of local companies” to help them enter these developing markets as a collective force.

“We are looking to build infrastructure projects and industrial parks in countries under the belt and road initiative.”

The initiative was launched by Beijing in 2013 to promote the building of railways, roads, power plants and other infrastructure projects in 60 countries from Asia to Europe on its old Silk Road to promote trade and economic growth.

The council has identified eight countries out of the 65 under the scheme as the initial destinations for Hong Kong investment – Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Nicholas Kwan, research director at the council, said Hong Kong investors were seasoned in managing supply chain systems across countries.

 Vincent Lo says numerous multibillion-dollar deals will be closed this year. Photo: Sam Tsang

Lo said the development level of many of the belt and road countries reminded him of mainland China three decades ago.

“Hong Kong investors have garnered a lot of practical experience in developing mainland China,” he said. “This experience is unique and will definitely benefit other countries.”

He said the council aimed to close several deals this year and estimated some projects were worth more than US$10 billion.

Lo added that chief executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had told him the next administration would fully support the council in furthering deals with countries linked to the trade initiative.

The council also announced that it would host its second belt and road summit in September, which looked to introduce more concrete plans for local firms to enter relevant countries.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/economy/article/2099050/hong-kong-firms-join-forces-make-deals-under-silk-road-plan

EU Battle Over Migrants Intensifies as European Commission Launches a Legal Case Against Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic

June 14, 2017

Commission moves against Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic, which have not cooperated with relocation agreement

.A refugee boy holds his baby brother at the port of Piraeus, Greece, in February 2016.
A refugee boy holds his baby brother at the port of Piraeus, Greece, in February 2016. Photograph: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

The European commission has launched a legal case against Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic for refusing to take in refugees, intensifying a bitter feud within the bloc about how to deal with migration.

The Eurosceptic governments in Poland and Hungary have refused to take in anyone under a plan agreed by a majority of EU leaders in 2015 to relocate migrants from frontline states Italy and Greece to help ease their burden. The Czech Republic initially accepted 12 people but has since said it would not welcome more.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, the EU’s migration chief, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said: “I regret to see that despite our repeated calls to pledge to relocate, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland have not yet taken the necessary action.

“For this reason, the commission has decided to launch infringement procedures against these three member states … I sincerely hope that these member states can still reconsider their position and contribute fairly.”

The legal action is likely to reinvigorate the debate over the independence of EU states from Brussels. It kickstarts months, or even years, of legal wrangling before a top EU court could potentially impose financial penalties.

Out of 160,000 refugees due to be taken under the scheme agreed in 2015, only 20,869 have been relocated. In theory, countries can be fined for every refugee in the quota they fail to accept.

The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, nosediving in the polls and facing elections in November, claimed the commission was “blindly insisting on pushing ahead with dysfunctional quotas which decreased citizens’ trust in EU abilities and pushed back working and conceptual solutions to the migration crisis”.

He added: “Given the deteriorating security situation in Europe and the non-functioning of the quota system, the Czech government will not participate in it. We are ready to defend our position in the EU and the relevant judicial institutions.”

Read the rest:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/13/eu-takes-action-against-eastern-states-for-refusing-to-take-refugees

Hungary Must Pass Law on ‘Mafia-Like’ Soros-Funded NGOs, PM Orban Says — Soros hits back

June 2, 2017

BUDAPEST — Hungary will push ahead with legislation to put foreign-funded non-governmental organizations under more scrutiny, as those financed by billionaire George Soros operate as a “mafia-like” network, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday.

Orban, a right-wing populist, has long criticized civil society organizations funded by Hungarian-born Soros, accusing them of opposing his tough migration policies, and working as paid political activists advocating Soros’ goals.

The Hungarian premier, who faces elections in April 2018, said Soros’ statement on Thursday that he admired “the courageous way Hungarians have resisted the deception and corruption of the mafia state Orban has established”, was a declaration of war.

“This is a declaration of war, no doubt,” Orban told state radio. “The only network which operates in mafia ways, which is not transparent… in Hungary is the Soros network.”

 Image result for George soros, photos

“This is why we must insist, and I personally insist on having a parliament decision on making these organizations transparent,” Orban added.

Under legislation submitted to parliament by the government, non-governmental organizations with foreign donations of at least 7.2 million forints ($26,000) will be required to register with authorities and declare themselves as foreign-funded. The NGOs have said the bill stigmatizes them.

Orban’s critics say the move against NGOs is part of his broader push to stifle dissenting voices and put independent institutions – including the judiciary, media – under closer government control.

Orban, in power since 2010, has often bashed the EU and repeatedly clashed with non-governmental organizations sponsored by Soros, who promotes a liberal and internationalist worldview that the nationalist-minded Hungarian leader dislikes.

($1 = 274.2600 forints)

(Reporting by Krisztina Than)

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Soros hits back at Hungary’s PM, denounces ‘mafia state’

Hungary defies EU on law threatening Soros-founded university

May 25, 2017

AFP

© AFP | A banner hangs over the Budapest tunnel, as Students and teachers of the Central European University protest in Budapest in April 2017

BUDAPEST (AFP) – 

Hungary will not change a controversial higher education law a government official said Thursday, despite an EU threat of legal action over fears it targets a prestigious university founded by US billionaire George Soros.

The European Commission, the executive of the 28-nation EU, last month launched a so-called infringement action against Hungary over revisions to its education law which were fast-tracked through parliament last month.

It gave Budapest until Thursday to respond to questions in its “letter of formal notice” or face being taken to court.

“The European Commission has not provided one single argument why the law should be modified,” Janos Lazar, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief-of-staff, told a press briefing.

The Commission alleged that the new legislation targets the Central European University (CEU) founded by Hungarian-born US billionaire George Soros, and that it breaches fundamental EU free-market laws as well as the right of academic freedom.

The government has denied the allegations and says it wants to remove advantages enjoyed by some foreign-based institutions.

The law requires foreign colleges and universities to operate on the basis of an intergovernmental agreement and to have a campus in the country in which they are based.

Set up in 1991 by Soros to foster democratic values after the end of communism, the English-language and Budapest-based CEU attracts students from 117 countries, but has long been seen as a hostile bastion of liberalism by Orban’s right-wing government.

“(Soros) lobbied well in Brussels, he has managed to mobilise the European Commission and the European Parliament,” Lazar said Thursday.

Chartered by the State of New York, the CEU has just one campus, in Budapest, where its continued operation would be made “impossible” by the new law according to the CEU rector Michael Ignatieff.

“The Orban regime can’t stand free institutions,” he told AFP last month.

The bill has sparked large street protests in Budapest and international condemnation including from universities, academics, and Nobel prizewinners around the world.

Budapest has insisted that under the new law an intergovernmental agreement between Hungary and the US federal administration is required to let the CEU keep its operating license.

The US State Department said this week however that the US government has “no authority or intention to enter into negotiations” over the CEU, and that education is not a matter for the federal administration.

In a statement it urged Budapest to “suspend implementation” of the law which it said “places discriminatory, onerous requirements on US-accredited institutions in Hungary and threatens academic freedom and independence”.

New York state governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that he is “ready to enter into discussions with the Hungarian government” to keep open “a treasured resource for students around the world”.

The government was ready to listen to what Cuomo has to say as a “matter of courtesy”, Lazar said.

Related:

‘Ultimatum’: EU paints Hungary as ‘villain’ in migrant dispute, trying to pressure court – minister
https://www.rt.com/news/383649-hungary-eu-report-migrants-ultimatum/

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Hungary and Slovakia take EU refugee quota scheme to court

May 10, 2017

Budapest has urged a new EU-wide mechanism to deport migrants, saying that deportation is “mostly not possible” in current conditions. Hungary and Slovakia filed a joint case against the EU’s refugee distribution scheme.

Ungarn Grenzzaun zwischen Serbien und Ungarn (picture alliance/dpa/MTI/B. Mohai)
Hungary sues EU at European Court of Justice over migrant quotas

Hungary has said it has filed a law suit against the European Union (EU), over plans to redistribute hundreds of thousands of refugees. Budapest has also launched a nationwide media campaign against the quota system. (03.12.2015)

Representatives of the two nations addressed the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Wednesday in a bid to dispute the EU’s decision to distribute migrants throughout the bloc on a quota basis. Faced with hundreds of thousands of migrants sailing to Italian and Greek shores,  the EU Council decided to lighten the load by distributing newcomers among the remaining members states. However, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic all voted against the move.

Bratislava and Budapest decided to take the decision to court, disputing its legal basis.

“We have complied a ten-point list of reasons we believe this decision to be illegal,” Hungary’s Justice Minister Laszlo Trocsanyi told  German daily “Welt.” The decision to assign quotas also sends the wrong signal to potential migrants, the minister said.

This message is “Go ahead and come to Europe, we will handle the distribution,” according to Trocsanyi. “Secondly, it’s not effective. These people want to go to very specific countries, not countries like Romania, Bulgaria, or Hungary. Those who were sent to Latvia were back in Germany in just two days.”

“Thirdly, it’s an issue of sovereignty,” he added.

Hungary waits for ECJ judges

According to the quota agreement,  EU members were required to take in over 100,000 immigrants from its two most burdened states. “Almost two years later, only 14 percent of refugees have been relocated from Italy and 18 of those from Greece,” Trocsanyi added.

Karte Ungarn Grenzstädte Kroatien Serbien EnglischHungary constructed barbed wire fence on border with Serbia and Croatia

The ECJ judges are expected to pass their ruling in several months time. If the court upholds the EU’s decision, Hungary and Slovakia will accept the ruling, the official said.

“Hungary abides by the law and fulfils its duties,” he said.

Frontex to take over deportation

The EU’s deportation policy is among the biggest problems of the refugee crisis, as returning migrants to their home countries is “mostly not possible,” the minister told “Welt.”

Budapest wants a new, Europe-wide solution to ease deportation, by boosting the EU’s border protection agency Frontex.

“We need to provide Frontex with new abilities and financial support, in order to organize flights and take migrants back to their home countries if they don’t qualify for protection,” Trocsanyi said.

Especially for the smaller countries, it would be “more effective if EU’s Frontex negotiates return with migrant home countries, than for example Hungary negotiating with Afghanistan.”

http://www.dw.com/en/hungary-and-slovakia-take-eu-refugee-quota-scheme-to-court/a-38781422

UN states ask Philippines to grant access to Callamard

May 8, 2017
Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, waits for her turn to speak at a drug policy forum at University of the Philippines, Friday, May 5, 2017 in Quezon City, Philippines. Callamard has rebuked Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly campaign against illegal drugs, saying world leaders have recognized it does not work. Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV
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Set no conditions for rapporteur’s visit, Philippines urged

MANILA, Philippines — Several member states of the United Nations have asked the Philippines to grant access to United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Agnes Callamard without conditions.

The Philippine government has presented the human rights situation in the country before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland for the third cycle of its Universal Periodic Review.

Reprsentatives from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia and Peru recommended to the Philippines to allow Callamard to conduct an investigation into the alleged extrajudicial killings in connection with President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

Several countries have also expressed concern over the alleged extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances including Australia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Vatican City, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Sierra Leone, Spain, Slovenia, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States .

The Philippines had invited Callamard to investigate alleged extrajudicial killings of drug offenders in the country under certain conditions from Duterte.

The UN special rapporteur rejected the conditions of the president which includes holding a public debate with Callamard rather than holding a private meeting.

“It is crucial for the effective implementation of the mission that the UN terms of reference are fully accepted by governments and that the code of conduct is respected,” Callamard said in a statement.

READ: UN rapporteur to Duterte: Listen to us, stop war on drugs

The same UN states also asked the Philippines to maintain the abolition of the death penalty, citing that it is a violation of the right to life.

Head of the Philippines’ delegation Menardo Guevarra (2nd L) listens to an assistant during the universal periodic review of the Philippines by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on May 8, 2017 at the UN offices in Geneva. AFP/Fabrice Coffrini

Earlier this year, the House of Representatives approved on second reading the measure restoring the death penalty but only for drug offenses.

The UN member states have also expressed concern over the proposal of lowering the age of criminality in the Philippines.

Several countries asked the Philippines to maintain the current age of criminal liability in the country. The House of Representatives is eyeing to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to nine years.

LIVE: UN reviews Philippines’ human rights situation

Hungary investigated by EU over law threatening top university (funded by George Soros)

April 13, 2017

EU Tells Hungary and Poland They Must Take Migrants or EU Will Take Legal Action

April 13, 2017

Russia Today (RT)

Hungary & Poland must take in refugees or face Brussels’ action – EU Commission

EU Threatens Hungary With Legal Action

April 13, 2017

Commission expresses concerns over moves against university and foreign-sponsored aid agencies

People protest in Budapest on Wednesday.

People protest in Budapest on Wednesday. PHOTO: BERNADETT SZABO/REUTERS

BRUSSELS—The European Commission threatened Hungary with legal action over its moves against a university and foreign-sponsored nongovernmental organizations, among other measures, and questioned whether the country is still a democracy.

The commission’s move Wednesday comes after parliament approved new legislation on higher education championed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban that provides grounds for the closure of the Central European University, founded by Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros.

Parliament voted last week that any university operating solely in Hungary but registered outside the European Union must secure an international agreement from both nations’ governments to continue. Only the Central European University would be affected.

 Image result for Central European University, photos

Mr. Soros has openly criticized Mr. Orban’s tough stance on migration and is a donor to Hungarian charities, including some that defend migrants in court. Under a second law under consideration, those aid agencies would have to register if they accept significant foreign funding.

Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s vice president in charge of fundamental rights said Wednesday that it would be a mistake to close the university, which has formed a new generation of Central European leaders who no longer believe in the Continent’s East-West divide.

“This is of such great value it deserves to be protected,” Mr. Timmermans said.

He said the commission is preparing a raft of legal cases against Hungary to be put forward at the end of April, not only over the higher education and aid laws, but also over legislation allowing asylum seekers to be detained in shipping containers, over discrimination against Roma children in schools and over lack of protection for pregnant women at work. He said the commission on Wednesday debated whether the country is still adhering to basic EU principles of democracy and human rights.

Image may contain: 8 people

Syrian migrants walk along Serbia’s border en route to Hungary. (Photo: Ognen Teofilovski/Reuters)

“It’s not just the European Commission, also member states want to know what direction Mr. Orban wants to take his country,” Mr. Timmermans said

The most recent laws have hit unexpectedly tough resistance, and not only from thousands of protesters on the streets of Budapest. In recent days, U.S. diplomats in Washington and Budapest have tried to persuade Mr. Orban to reconsider the measures, a State Department official said. Senior National Security Council officials also have been involved.

“We will continue to raise this issue [of the Central European University] with Hungarian officials,” a State Department official said.

Hungary’s No. 2 party, the nationalist Jobbik party, has in the past asked Jewish Hungarians like Mr. Soros to register with the government for national security reasons, but also has defended in recent days Mr. Soros’s right to establish a university.

“I’m not the greatest fan of George Soros and this type of liberal values that the Central European University might transmit,” said Jobbik’s Deputy Parliament Leader Márton Gyöngyösi last week. “But there is some kind of way of doing things in a society.”

Mr. Orban says the university is operating at an unfair advantage because it issues American degrees—and Hungarian universities can’t. On Wednesday, he said the European Commission is threatening him as part of a broader plan to force Hungary to settle refugees.

“Brussels is launching attacks against Hungary due to immigration,” a statement from his office said. “Hungary is ready for debates, but we are not going to yield an inch.”

Mr. Orban has been at odds with the EU’s executive in recent years, mainly over migration, a dispute that political analysts widely agree has benefited Mr. Orban. The 53-year-old former dissident has swept election after election in his tiny central European state, on a platform of defending its people from foreign meddling.

Michael Ignatieff, the president and rector of Central European University, met with senior officials from the State Department and National Security Council in Washington last week.

“The message has got to be, ’Nobody takes an American institution hostage.’ You just don’t do that. If you have a problem that you want Washington to talk about, just pick up the phone,” Mr. Ignatieff said in an interview after the meetings. “Why should anybody get to push an American university around? Why does Viktor Orban get to tell me where I can teach?”

Write to Valentina Pop at valentina.pop@wsj.com and Drew Hinshaw at drew.hinshaw@wsj.com

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EU Tells Poland, Hungary to Take in Migrants or Face Legal Action — Expect a Fight

April 12, 2017

BRUSSELS — The European Union’s executive stepped up pressure on Poland and Hungary on Wednesday to take in asylum seekers under the bloc’s migration plan or risk legal action if their reluctant governments refuse.

Warsaw and Budapest have stonewalled the scheme to move 160,000 people from Italy and Greece – the main ports of arrival – to elsewhere in the EU. Other member states have also dragged their feet, leaving the divisive plan stalled.

The eurosceptic governments in Poland and Hungary have also put their media and judiciary under tighter state control, raising concerns in Brussels and other EU capitals that they are infringing on the bloc’s democratic checks and balances.

The influx of some 1.6 million refugees and migrants into the EU in 2014-2016 has led to rows on how to share the burden among member states. Only about 16,340 people have been moved so far under the emergency scheme that ends in September.

“If Member States do not increase their relocations soon, the Commission will not hesitate to make use of its powers … for those which have not complied,” the bloc’s executive arm said in a statement.

The Commission had proposed to fine member states for failing to take in migrants, but there has been little political backing for such a step. A court case would not resolve the issue quickly, but could add to mounting pressure for action from other EU states.

Migrants make their way through the countryside after they crossed the Hungarian-Croatian border near the village of Zakany in Hungary on October 16, 2015 | © AFP/File | Hanna Sonia

Italy has been in the forefront of calling for cuts to EU subsidies to Poland and Hungary over migration. Germany, Sweden, Austria and France – the most frequent final destinations – have also been stepping up pressure on the hold-outs.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have taken in only a few asylum seekers and the European Commission also underlined their weak response to the plan.

The Commission statement recalled the relocation plan was decided by EU leaders in September 2015 despite Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania voting against it. Although generally opposed to it, Poland eventually voted with majority.

RARE GOOD NEWS

In rare good news, Brussels noted that Austria has now decided to join the relocation programme. Vienna was previously exempted since it had taken in some 90,000 asylum seekers in 2015 as it sits on one of the key migratory routes into Europe.

Austria’s interior minister said he would make preparations for the country to receive people, with the first group expected to be around 50 unaccompanied children from Italy.

Some 14,000 people are currently eligible for relocation from Greece, the Commission said. It recommended that Italy speed up the necessary legal and security proceedings as it currently only has some 3,500 people waiting to be moved.

EU officials are split over whether to open legal proceedings over relocation, with some noting Poland and Hungary should be punished for undermining the bloc’s solidarity.

Others say that such so-called “infringements” would have to be launched against just about every EU state since so many cut corners on various agreements.

Hungary has filed its own lawsuit against the relocation scheme, which assigns each EU state a specific number of asylum seekers to receive. A hearing at the EU’s top European Court of Justice is due on May 10.

Poland’s and Hungary’s disputes over migration with the bloc are just one area on which the two post-communist countries, now governed by eurosceptics, clash with Brussels and the wealthier western European states.

The bloc has voiced concern over the weakening of the rule of law and undermining of democratic standards by both Budapest under Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Warsaw under the right-wing government of the Law and Justice (PiS) party.

The Commission on Wednesday separately warned Hungary it risked being sued in court over a number of Orban’s policies.

(Additional reporting by Francois Murphy in Vienna; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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