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The Bálna (Whale), a cultural,

entertainment and gastronomic





Until the age of six, the late Hollywood star

Tony Curtis spoke only Hungarian. The reason:

His parents came from Hungary. Numerous

other Hungarians also achieved international

success. These include the journalist Joseph Pulitzer

and the Pulitzer Prize, which is named after him.

They also include the architect and designer Marcel

Breuer, the magician Harry Houdini, known for his

exceptional escape stunts, the actress and socialite

Zsa Zsa Gabor, the composers and pianists Franz

Liszt and Béla Bártok, as well as a number of Hungarian

Nobel Prize winners. The Hungarian entrepreneur

and philanthropist George Soros also became

famous when he brought the Bank of England to its

knees in 1992 by betting against the British pound.

Soros, born in August 1930, is regarded in Hungary

as a person who is subject to much criticism.

Keyword criticism: The currently best known Hungarian

is Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. The politician,

who is regarded as the inventor of 'illiberal democracy',

is also repeatedly confronted with accusations

from the EU, other states and international observers.

One of these accusations was aimed at the introduction

of the Hungarian emergency law, which

statesman Orbán had initiated on the occasion of the

outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and which enabled

him to govern by decree.

Brussels has not taken action against this Corona

emergency law. In the third week of May, Prime Minister

Orbán announced that the Corona Emergency

Law would be repealed at the end of May. Andor

Nagy, Ambassador of Hungary in Vienna: “The figures

were good. As Orbán had stressed, the measures

only remained in force until the end of the emergency.

It turned out that the hysterical disinformation

campaign was unnecessary”.

However, proceedings are still pending for

breaches of EU treaties, for example for interventions

by the Central Bank, the judiciary or the data

protection authority. The restriction of the freedom

of the press is also frequently criticised. In addition,

the membership of Orbán Fidesz's party in the European

People's Party (EPP) is being questioned. Andor

Nagy, Ambassador of Hungary in Vienna: “Viktor

Orbán is a political veteran on the European

party stage. Almost nobody has been re-elected three

times in a row with such a large majority. Orbán tests

borders, but always does it only to protect the interests

of the Hungarians, in the interest of his own

country but also of Europe.”

Hungary's economy, like that of almost every

country on the planet, will suffer a setback as a result

of the Covid-19 pandemic. The extent of the impact

can be assessed on the basis of estimates by the EU

Commission. According to the European Economic

Forecast prepared by the Commission in May,

Hungary's real GDP could fall by six percent in 2020.

For Austria, the estimates point to a decline of 5.5

percent, for the entire EU a minus of 7.4 percent is

expected. Hungary joined the EU on 1 May 2004, but

is not a member of the euro area.

In recent years, however, Hungary's economy had

developed well. According to the Austrian Federal

Economic Chamber (WKO), Hungary's gross domestic

product rose by between two percent in 2013 and

5.1 percent in 2018. In the previous year, economic

output increased by 4.9 percent. Hungary thus recorded

the second strongest real GDP increase in the

European Union after Malta and performed significantly

better than the eurozone countries, whose

GDP growth averaged 1.2 percent. Moreover, the annual

economic upturn since 2013 has been consistently

stronger than in Austria.

In 2017, Austria recorded per capita health care

expenditure of just under USD 4,940, while Hungary

spent around USD 980. Nevertheless, the official figures

point to good Hungarian crisis management in

dealing with Covid-19. This is confirmed by figures

from the American Johns Hopkins University, founded

in 1876. According to these figures, Hungary

had 4.62 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants as of 18 May

2020. In Austria, the number of deaths per 100,000

inhabitants was 7.11. At that time, San Marino with

121.36 and Belgium with 79.25 deaths per 100,000

inhabitants were the worst hit.

With a share of around 65 percent, the service

sector contributes the most to Hungary's economic

output. Just under a third of GDP is generated in the

industrial sector, and around 3.5 percent by agriculture.

Among its trading partners, Germany is by far

the most important with 27.7 percent of exports and

24.7 percent of imports. A large proportion of Hungarian

exports are made by foreign-owned companies.

The Hungarian pharmaceutical and IT industry

has also been able to establish itself in the export sector.

Foreign trade is very important, as 93 percent of

Hungary's industrial output is exported.

Hungary's industry has a great tradition. The

most important branches of industry are mechanical

engineering and the manufacturing industry. In re-


Capital: Budapest

Government: Hungary is a

republic. The head of state is

the incumbent President

János Áder. The President is

elected for five years. The

executive power is exercised

by the government of

Hungary with Prime Minister

Viktor Orbán as head of

government. The Hungarian

Government is accountable

to the Hungarian Parliament


Area: 90.530 sqkm2

(111th biggest country in the


Population: 9.7 million


Ethnic Groups: Hungarian

84.0%, Romani 3.0%,

German 1.0%, Slovaks 0.3%,

Romanians 0.3%, Croats

0.2%, unspecified 11.2%

(2011 est.)

Currency: Hungarian Forint


GDP: $170.4 billion (2019)

GDP per person: $17.643



• Traditional founding date

25 December 1000,

crowning of King Stephen I.

• On 30 March 1867, the

Austro-Hungarian dual

monarchy was established.

• On 16 October 2018, the

Republic was proclaimed.

With 691 rooms, the Hungarian Parliament

is Europe's largest government building.

New York Café at the Boscolo

Hotel, one of the most beautiful

cafés in the world.

24 Cercle Diplomatique 2/2020

Cercle Diplomatique 2/2020


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