Hungary has once again become the focus of attention of the world press, but this time we cannot be proud of this moment either.
Perhaps the main consequence of Sputnik V in Eastern Europe was political turmoil in the country to which the Russians were sent off drugs, Dalibor Rohack writes. An analyst from the American Enterprise Institute in Slovakia describes that it is understandable why some governments have resorted to Moscow, since the European Union has so far not done brilliantly at purchasing vaccines. However, Orbán took independence to the extreme: in January, he ordered 2 million meals from Russia, although it was still very far from being able to deliver at that time. The strongman agreed with the Chinese on 5 million ampoules, thus circumventing the common EU purchases, while neither the Russian nor the Chinese received the European authorization. At first glance, of course, it is not at all diabolical for the East, with the help of Moscow and Beijing, to try to overcome the crisis, to achieve herd immunity. But there are also a lot of risks, because Sputnik V has so far been more effective in destabilizing the region than limiting the pandemic. First, it is doubtful how effective and safe it is. Much important data is missing, and it is also questionable how reliable the information provided so far is. By the way, the strange paradox is that Russia has, in principle, a good medicine in its hands, but at home it can barely make any progress in the vaccination campaign. To do this, of course, it should be borne in mind that the Hungarian population does not have much confidence in the product, and Moscow is interested in geopolitics, and not the population of the country. The latter does not matter at all. In addition, although Hungary is highly dependent on the two eastern countries, this is not reflected in the fact that it will be more effective in fighting the virus than its neighbor, and vice versa. The Poles don’t even want to hear about their commitment to Moscow, and there is heated debate on the issue in Bratislava and Prague as well. Because politics is already entering the picture here. It is not known if the two governments will ultimately fall into Russian business. But the Kremlin certainly rubbed its palm because it had not hoped the vaccine would cause such an uproar in the two member states of the European Union.
Although Russia is not convinced to push Sputnik V into the world, vaccination is only delayed at home, and many experts doubt whether Moscow will be able to deliver the promised huge amount to foreign clients. It quotes from the Soviet era during the successful publicity of Russian mass media. Anyone watching state TV might think that the drug is conquering the world now, and that Western competitors are most in the runner-up category. The head of the relevant investment agency was quick to report that India was already the 60th country to allow the vaccine to come onto the market. The approval continues only in the European Union, because there are so many question marks. That is why representatives of the European Medicines Agency are currently visiting Russian factories, hospitals and warehouses, but experts say the decision will not be taken until June at the earliest. However, what the Russians have brought so far across the border pales in comparison to the number of meals that Pfizer or Moderna has offered on the market. Many experts assumed from the start that Russia would only be able to fulfill a fraction of its contractual obligations, even in good cases. Hungary alone got more, a million good ampoules. Meanwhile, in Russia, so far only 4 million people have received Sputnik the fifth, which is less than 3 percent of the population. Many regions are useless while waiting for shipments, even Putin had to admit. Official statistics do not even provide data on vaccination status.
The vice president of the European Parliament says he has sharpened his relationship with the European Commission by granting Parliament until June 1 to start the rule of law mechanism, but there was no other option. Parley reiterated that the ultimatum was sent because the executive authority of the European Union was unable to help heads of state and government strike a special deal with Hungary and Poland. The new regulation came into effect at the start of the year, so we can’t wait to see what the European Court of Justice has to say about the Budapest and Warsaw complaints. The two countries have so far respected the provisions of CJEU, but it is not known if this will continue as such. It is feared that if they don’t like something, they will catch up with the recent ruling of the German Constitutional Court that annulls the Luxembourg commission’s decision on common bond purchases. However, the highest court of the union can impose a very large fine in such a case, up to 6-7 numbers per day! And that would hurt Urban a lot, as he only understands the language of money. It is so corrupt that it has never been seen on the continent. Every year billions of euros disappear through his family and comrades. When asked whether Viktor Orban wants to bring skeptical nationalists of the European Union together in Strasbourg, the Social Democratic politician, who was the head of the Ministry of Justice, said that if the plan worked, it would be a big problem, because even the second most powerful party family could be created as well. But it contrasts with the risk that these parties are often only able to agree that their country wants to shut itself down. But the far right still maintains a link behind the scenes. Their analytical institutes work together and try to bridge the contradictions, for example in relation to Russia. You should definitely pay attention to it. The reason is that the People’s Party refused to concede Fides for years, but the Hungarian party at least withdrew.
After the murder of the Greek journalist, Reporters Without Borders expressed its concern that it believed that there are increasing risks lurking in the press in Europe, threatening media freedom, especially in Hungary. In five years, it is the fourth time a Syndicate correspondent has been killed. Pavol Salay, the NGO official, says the European Union remains the safest place in the world for the media, but this increases the pressure on the media. The rule of law is weakening and the risk is increasing. Within this, the attack on press freedom is particularly complex and systematic in Hungary. In addition, Poland and Slovenia are adopting this model. According to the expert, what Orban’s government is doing is a paradigm counter to media independence. The prime minister rode the pandemic to gain full power. A person can face up to five years in prison for spreading false news. It is no coincidence that the country only ranked 89th on RHN’s most recent list. Although the European Union calls for strengthening the independence of the press, it did nothing to prevent Viktor Orban from restricting the rule of the fourth branch of power, as Pavol-Szalay notes.
The Deputy Chairperson of the Commission expressed concern that the Polish state oil company wanted to seize a large part of the regional newspapers. A day before the Warsaw Constitutional Court ruled the case, Gurova said: Can the Human Rights Commissioner be given another mandate. Bodnar is opposed to PKN Orlen’s takeover of Passauer Verlag and was acquitted by a competition court three days earlier. He also stopped the deal. However, Justice and Justice has long accused the Ombudsman of opposing the government and using his office to do so. For her part, Gorova said that the European Union cannot interfere with the ongoing procedures, but it is very dangerous to create a journalism empire that seeks to advance the interests of one party because it harms media diversity. Therefore, it was considered very important to apply the rules of competition fairly.
A large-scale vaccination campaign is a ray of hope in Hungary, but there are still many dead. In any case, more than three million have already received at least the first dose. Victor Urban did not miss to congratulate himself on this occasion. The result is indeed a success, thanks to Russian and Chinese medicines being taken in large quantities, although none of them have yet received the green signal from the European authority. But there is also a need for as many people as possible to be immune, because the populist right-wing prime minister has not excelled at managing crises. The cut came too late, but the government was intent on opening early. This is also mentioned by health advocates. Hospitals are overcrowded. Doctors and nurses have wrecked it, and there’s a lot to do. The total number of people in intensive care units is rarely published by authorities. For weeks, 2-300 people die every day, according to 444.hu, with this data – an average of two weeks, per million inhabitants – the country is the world champion. The Hungarian value is 367, in Austria only 49. The fact that healthcare is slowly collapsing is also evident from what the Deputy Director General of the National Hospital, Peter Takax, has revealed as a rare crow: 80 percent of Covidone patients have been put on a respirator dying.
Initial sources revealed that OTP wants to purchase another bank in Slovenia. If the idea materializes, it will gain a market leading position in the neighboring country. The target is Nova KBM. According to news reports, the negotiations include a purchase price of around 1 billion, which roughly corresponds to the financial institution’s book value. The parent company already has a small interest in the Slovenes, plus it has cut a small slice for the Croats and Serbs, but it is trying to expand further in the Balkans. Nova KBM employs more than 2,000 people and made a net profit of € 210 million last year. Most of it is owned by the Apollo group of private investors, but it is also 20% owned by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The current farmer got it for 250 million euros 6 years ago and then added the country’s third largest bank two years ago – for 444 million euros, so the current sale promises good profits. At the time, the prosecutor’s office applied for both, but failed. His spokesman said now that he is constantly looking for opportunities because they want to strengthen positions in the region.