Hungarians Wary of for Int Exchange

Article excerpt

Tdown the street. It was the Hungarian equivalent of the East German Trabant. That it still survives on the taxi ranks of 21st century Budapest,albeit in some of the less touristy parts of the city, shows that perhaps its detractors over-reacted.

But for Judit Horeczki it has that certain link with a past that she and her generation of young Magyars would rather expunge. She has an exuberant air of expectation and confidence about her as she sips her coffee.

Lighting up another Marlboro in this trendy bar, that stands in a side street between Budapest's fashionable Vaci Ut shopping street and the not-so-blueDanube, the 27-year- old has grand plans for the future.

Having being instrumental in being among the first of the old Eastern bloc countries to throw off the shackles of communism, Hungary is now looking forward to a new future as a member of the ever-growingEuropean Union family of nations. Or is it?

Any niggling doubts about the country's future political path were supposedly dispelled last month when an overwhelming 83pc of those who voted gave the EU the thumbs-up in a nationwide referendum on Hungary's proposed membership.

Judit Horeczki was still at school when the old order collapsed with a whimper, without a shot being fired in anger. Now the budding musician sees new avenues opening for her talents as Hungary reaps the expected economic benefits of increasing westernisation.

``It can only be good for Hungary to tie ourselves more and more to the west,'' sheargues,in a slightly American-accentedEnglish.

``We are still a poor country, although things are getting better. But why should I only aspire to owning a Dacia when I could have a BMW?

``I want the best I can possibly afford,and I can now see the way forward to achieving that. And so what if we have to give up our currency?It hasn't done us much good over the years,has it?'' Not that everyone is happy at the thought of ceding chunks of the Republic's hard-won sovereignty to a huge political power bloc,nor of handing control of the economy to the EU. Swap Brussels for Moscow,and we're back to square one, so the largely older sceptics argue.

And the fears about ditching the Hungarian for int in exchange for the euro,although unlikely to happen before the end of the decade,has them muttering through their moustaches into their Borsodi beer in bars throughout the country. …