Hungary. On March 3, negotiations began in a case between
Hungary and Slovakia before the International Court of
Justice in The Hague. The goal was for a hydropower project
in the Danube border, which started as a collaboration
between Hungary and then Czechoslovakia. According to
Countryaah, the agreement
between the two countries was signed in 1977. Following the
dissolution of the iron curtain in the early 1990s, Hungary
wanted to withdraw from the project and cited environmental
reasons as the cause. The water flow regulations that the
Czechoslovakian side still implemented were considered by
the Hungarian authorities as illegal and as a breach of the
However, the International Court did not consider that
Hungary's concerns about the environment were sufficient
grounds for breach of the agreement. According to the court
ruling, which came in late September, Hungary would pay
compensation to Slovakia, partly for part of the dam
construction and partly for the Gabčíkovo power plant on the
Slovak side of the border. Slovakia, in turn, was criticized
for continuing its expansion after Hungary's departure. The
court's ruling is not binding.
At a meeting in Budapest in mid-May, Hungary's Prime
Minister Gyula Horn met his colleagues from Slovenia and
Italy, Janez Drnovšek and Romano Prodi. In a statement after
the meeting, the three leaders reaffirmed their intention to
develop cooperation between the countries, in particular in
the areas of customs, education and research, environmental
protection, culture and the judiciary. Romano Prodi also
promised to support Slovenia and Hungary's entry into the EU
Both the EU and NATO counted Hungary as the countries
whose application documents would be processed in the first
place. A Hungarian referendum on NATO membership, held in
mid-November, marked a big victory for the Yes side, which
received just over 85% of the vote. However, turnout was
low, just under 50%.
In September 2006, a secret tape was leaked to the media.
On the tape, Prime Minister Ferenc declared during a spring
ministerial meeting that the government had always lied to
voters about the country's real economic situation. The tape
triggered extensive demonstrations in Budapest demanding the
departure of the Prime Minister.
Hungary was hit hard by the global economic crisis, which
seriously broke out in 2008. Many had borrowed abroad in
Euro or Swiss Franc, and they were hit hard when the forint
in October 2008 fell 10%. Hungarian GDP fell 6.7% in 2009.
At the same time, unemployment rose from 9.6% in March 2009
to 11.0% in March 2010. Meanwhile, youth unemployment
reached 28.4%. The IMF and the EU had to give the country a
loan of $ 20 billion. € in October 2008 and a new loan of
similar size in May 2009.
The xenophobia quickly became more violent during 2009
with the killing of many Roma and other violent assaults.
The fascist party Jobbik organized its storm troops in the
form of Magyar Gárda (the Hungarian Guard), who conducted
demonstrations and violent assaults in Roma areas in
especially the eastern part of the country. Magyar Gárda was
dissolved by a court of appeals and eventually the Supreme
Court because of its violent activities, but continued
unabated her violent activities. In the fall, the violent
assaults were also directed against gays and lesbians as a
result of a Pride march in Budapest.
The April 2010 parliamentary elections gave a drastic
right turn in the Hungarian parliament. The Social Democracy
MSZP was more than halved from 42% to 19.3%. Conservative
Fidez rose from 43.2% to 52.73. However, the biggest
surprise was that the Hungarian sister party of the Danish
People's Party, the fascist and anti-Semitic Jobbik was
represented with 16.67%. After the election, Fidesz 'Viktor
Orbán formed government. Four of Jobbik's newly-elected MPs
were removed from their committee positions when an
investigation revealed that they "had contact with groups
involved in activities that violate the fundamental
principles of a rule of law". However, they remained members
In May, Parliament passed a new law that allowed
Hungarians abroad to apply for Hungarian citizenship.
Slovakia protests against the change of law, calling it
Hungarian revisionism and threatening to deprive its own
citizens of their Slovak citizenship if they seek Hungarian
Pál Schmitt was elected President of the Hungarian
Parliament with 263 against 59 votes. He took over the post
in August 2010. Schmitt identified himself 100% with Viktor
Orban's government, and often used the term "we in the
government", although he was formally raised above it.
However, his career as president fell short. In January
2012, a Hungarian website published documents showing that
in 1992 he had plagiarized his doctoral dissertation after
another. In April he resigned and in May he was replaced by
Fidesz member János Áder.
In October, a dam breaks down and huge amounts of toxic
chemical waste run out into the Danube, killing everything
over a stretch of several hundred kilometers. Pollution
extends far into Western Europe. 7 people die and 150 are
injured. The area is declared in exceptional condition.
In December 2011, Parliament passed a new controversial
electoral law that halved the number of parliamentarians and
reshuffled the constituencies. Critics say the change is
being implemented to benefit the Fidesz party. In the same
month, Parliament adopts a central bank reform that gives
the government greater influence over monetary policy. The
EU and the IMF are suspending negotiations on assistance to
the country. The European Central Bank also expressed
concern that the law potentially gives the government
greater political control over the Hungarian central bank.