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Senior Hungarian lawmaker accuses next U.S. envoy of 'ignorance'

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - A Hungarian ruling party lawmaker on Wednesday accused the next U.S. ambassador to his country of "ignorance" and bias after she expressed concern over a rise of extremism and an erosion of democratic values in Hungary. Colleen Bell, Ambassador-Designate to Hungary, told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 16 that, while Hungary was a strong ally, a perceived erosion of democratic checks and balances under Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his ruling centre-right Fidesz Party gave grounds for concern.

Hungary awards $14-billion nuclear project to Russia

Hungary on Tuesday tasked Russia's atomic energy corporation to more than double production at the EU nation's only nuclear power plant in a contract worth nearly $14 billion. The agreement signed after talks between Hungary's visiting Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to draw criticism both at home and from EU officials because it came without a formal bidding process.

Hungarian PM welcomes upgrade to Huawei logistics center

BUDAPEST, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- Information and communications technology giant Huawei announced the completion of a logistics center upgrade in Biatorbagy, a few kilometers west of Budapest on Tuesday, with an inauguration ceremony officiated by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Chinese Ambassador to Hungary Xiao Qian. The facility now has a loading capacity of 3,000 tractor-trailers monthly and following additional expansion is intended to handle all transport and storage of products destined for the European, North African, Russian, and Middle East markets.

Hungary PM courts diaspora vote for 2014 election

By Gergely Szakacs BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Prime Minister Viktor Orban urged Hungary's large ethnic diaspora on Wednesday to exercise their newly won right to vote in next year's national election, hoping they will help to further cement his grip on power. Several million ethnic Hungarians live in neighboring Romania, Serbia and Ukraine and elsewhere, descendants of Hungarians who found themselves outside their homeland when the country's borders were redrawn at the end of World War One.

Hungarian PM invokes spirit of 1956 uprising at mass rally

By Gergely Szakacs and Krisztina Than BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of Hungarians demonstrated in support of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government on Wednesday as the country marked the anniversary of a 1956 uprising against Soviet rule. Facing an election in April or May, Orban invoked the spirit of that rebellion to tell his supporters to mobilize for a new battle against the heirs of the communists.

Hungary greenlights controversial central bank merger

Hungary's parliament has approved the merger of the central bank with the financial supervisory authority PSZAF in spite of misgivings from the European Central Bank. The tie-up, adopted late Monday, was put on ice earlier this year after objections from the then-head of the central bank and the ECB that it threatened central bank independence. But in mid-April Gyorgy Matolcsy, a close ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, announced six weeks after becoming the new head of the central bank that the merger would go ahead.

Hungary backtracks on contested reforms after EU pressure

By Gergely Szakacs BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary's parliament has approved changes to the constitution, removing restrictions on political media campaigns ahead of next year's election and backtracking on other legal aspects the European Union has said may conflict with its principles. The EU, the United States and human rights groups have accused Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government of using constitutional amendments to limit the powers of Hungary's top court and weaken democracy in the former Soviet satellite.

Hungary proposes new constitution changes to soothe EU fears

Hungary proposed new changes to its controversial constitution Friday that it said should calm European Union fears that basic rights are being eroded in the former communist country. "The government wants to do away with those... problems which have served as an excuse for attacks on Hungary," a statement from the prime minister's office said. The proposal tweaks passages in the constitution covering election campaigning, official church status and the judiciary, among others: all issues that have drawn international criticism, especially from the EU.

Hungary grappling with suspension of vital EU funds

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - The European Union has suspended most development programs in Hungary due to shortcomings with the schemes and the country could end up losing 600 billion forints ($2.7 billion) in EU funds this year, the government said. Janos Lazar, the prime minister's chief of staff, said on Monday that the government was in talks with Brussels on regaining access to funds which financed important projects such as road building and social cohesion programs.

Analysis: Orban turns foreign catcalls into Hungarian applause

By Krisztina Than BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has converted criticism heaped on him from abroad into a reputation at home as a plucky defender of national sovereignty that should help him to win re-election next year. At the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and multi-national firms, Orban is often viewed as an unpredictable populist whose policies run counter to the behavior expected of a European leader.
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