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Hungary

Yearbook 2002

Hungary. At the New Year, a law came into force that granted temporary work permits and other rights in Hungary to ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries. The law was controversial both inside and outside Hungary. The Slovak Government considered that it invaded its sovereignty over its citizens when they were attracted with student aid to schools in Hungary. Instead, the Hungarian spiritual leader in Romania, Bishop László Tökés, noted that the law "has started the reunification of the Hungarian nation without changing borders". But in negotiations with Romania, the Hungarian government had agreed to extend the rights to all Romanian citizens. That decision received harsh criticism at home, with many Hungarians fearing that poor Romanians would turn in for summer jobs.

2002 Hungary

According to Countryaah website, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing party Alliance of Youth Democrats (Fidesz MPP) hoped, however, that the efforts of Hungarian minorities would win nationalist votes in the upcoming parliamentary elections. There was concern that an extremist nationalist party was advancing in public opinion. The Hungarian Socialist Party and the Peace Democratic Alliance were critical of the law and argued that only increased democratization in neighboring countries could solve minority problems.

The election was held in two rounds in April. Fidesz and its alliance partners, the right-middle party MDF, with their 188 seats saw themselves beaten by the Socialists and the Peace Democrats, who together won 198 seats. After a few weeks of negotiations, a center-left government was formed with the socialist Peter Medgyessy as new prime minister. Despite his party color, Medgyessy explained that he intended to continue the market economy reforms with, among other things, privatization of state activities. He also promised to work for Hungary to get EU membership as soon as possible.

During the summer, however, the new head of government ended up in windy weather. The press revealed that Medgyessy had been an officer in the security service for some years during the communist era. Medgyessy confirmed that he was active in counter-espionage but suggested that the secret archives should be opened so that the history of all politicians could be mapped. The debate about the past got hot. Medgyessy remained, while the new opposition leader, Fidesz party leader Zoltan Pokorni, was forced to resign. The reason was the revelation that his father worked as a police informer during the communist regime.

Shortly after Pokorni's departure, Parliament decided to set up a committee to investigate Prime Minister Medgyessy's past. Another committee was set up to investigate the background of a few hundred people who have served as ministers or secretary of state since 1990.

At the EU summit in Copenhagen in December, Hungary, together with nine other countries, received the clearance for membership of the Union from 2004.

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