Friday, 3 December 2010

Hungarian Press: A Response

I translate the following from an article in Népszava, traditionally the paper of the unions:

Once again Hungarian democracy is in danger. Because, make no mistake, a media law born of self-interest, employing regulations that have not even been announced, is set to destroy the press and so hammer a nail in the coffin of a state based on human rights. And that we cannot allow.

We are not labouring under any illusions. Fidesz [the governing party] has always been remorseless. It has gone its own way, determined to wreck the constitution. Think of the Constitutional Court or even of the Finance Council. The outline of the proposed new constitution shows they're not joking, that they are looking to bunker themselves into government for many a long year, for decades perhaps, ignoring European practice.

No doubt a critical press is an obstacle because it criticises what is bad. It may at times even reveal some nasty secret of the government or its representatives.

The press serves as the guardian of democracy - that is its task.

Yes, but if the threat of crippling financial sanctions constantly hangs over it like some sword of Damocles, we can guess what is likely to happen.

This is not the first time in the long history of Népszava that this paper has stood up to autocratic, dictatorial powers. We have survived Tisza, Horthy, Rákosi and Kádár*. Each era was difficult in its own way. But nothing lasts for ever. They will go, we will remain.

We believe in the solidarity of the press.

We believe in the support of all democratic people.

We believe in the support of the outside world.

We will protest. In writing and in speeches. We will use Hungary's presidency of the EU to draw the attentions of the union to affairs incompatible with the spirit of Europe.

And perhaps.

Perhaps there might even exist a member of Fidesz still in full possession of a conscience.

We are not giving up.

*Autocratic leaders of Right and Left in the 20th Century.


Gwilym Williams said...

If you go to the link I just gave you and enter "Hungary" in the search box you get a neighbour's slant on things Hungarian. For example, Hungarians are now taking bus trips to Austria to donate blood. They get €20. And there is a €50 bonus if one brings a "friend" at Christmas when blood is in demand. This circumvents EU regulations about exporting blood.
As I say, I'll keep you posted (as much as time and space permits) on the view from over the fence.

Gwilym Williams said...

Austrian tabloid Kronen Zeitung sent Kurt Steinitz to Hungary. In today's column he reports that Hungarias are pleased to be taking over the EU presidency (in Castle Gödöllö) on 1st January 2011. On the other hand they feel they are lagging behind other ex-Soviet occupied states in developement. There's the problem of 'structural poverty' (some villages have 100% unemployment), pensions too low to live off, youth unemployment 22%, and 50% of young people see their future outside Hungary. Hungarians are prepared to accept the FIDESZ-Govt's "exceptional measures"; the new tax on "foreign profiteers", the media laws, personnel changes, forthcoming "structural reforms". The opposition is "in a state of shock" after the defeat and unable to do anything about a "tsunami" of legislation. Szabo Vilmos says "people want a political change but not a system change ... press freedom will soon be worse than under Kadar"