Clouds gather over the former partners

Published on 6 November 2014 at 08:23

Tensions are brewing between the two former partners of the Austro-Hungarian Empire: if, during his official visit to Hungary on 15 October, Austrian president Heinz Fischer “certainly received a warm welcome”, Kurier writes that “all his sympathetic gestures of neighbourliness […] could not hide the fact there is a real problem between Vienna and Budapest.”

As the Viennese daily explains, —

Since 1 May, a new law has been applied in Hungary. It puts an end to the retroactive effect of all usufruct contracts signed since 1994 providing beneficiaries the use and enjoyment of farmland and even simple gardens. As a result, some 200 farmers and a number of owners of secondary homes are at risk of expropriation.

The paper notes that “for months Austria has sent complaints to the European Commission,” which will announce its decision at the end of the month.

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Also affecting the relationship is Hungarian prime minister Victor Orbán’s attitude towards the many Austrian banks operating in Hungary —

A new law should compel them to make all their foreign currency exchanges in forints, at a price fixed by the government. This could come at a cost of up to €3.2bn for banks operating in the country.

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