‘Partial’ press uninterested in Hungarian success, claims ambassador

The Hungarian ambassador in Vienna has claimed that the European press is not interested in a successful Hungarian presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU).The Hungarian government of right-wing Fidesz chairman and Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been attacked by newspapers all over the continent over a controversial new media enactment. The law, which came into effect recently, is widely considered as a threat to the freedom of the press in the country.Many members of the European Parliament (EP) and the European Commission (EC) also criticised the country, which will head the EU Council for the next six months, for setting up the bylaw. Orban and EC President Jose Manuel Barroso eventually agreed that the EC will check the decree for possible breaches of EU laws – a process critics claimed may take longer than Hungary’s presidency.Now Vince Szalay-Bobrovniczky, the country’s ambassador in Austrian capital Vienna, has hit back. He told Austrian magazine profil: “We are ready to have an unemotional discussion at any time. But my impression is that media aren’t really interested in a successful Hungarian presidency of the Council of the EU.”Szalay-Bobrovniczky claimed all articles of the new Hungarian media law exist in other European countries’ enactments already. “There have been complaints that the head of the Hungarian media authority was appointed by the prime minister. That’s the same in Austria,” he added speaking to the weekly magazine.The diplomat said he considered Austrian media’s coverage in general as balanced but “partial” regarding Hungary.The International Press Institute’s (IPI) Austrian branch has meanwhile warned that the new Hungarian legislation “constitutes a fundamental threat to press freedom and therefore to democracy by muzzling journalists and introducing censorship.”The group appealed on Hungarian decision-makers in an insert, published in leading Austrian newspapers today (Thurs), “to strengthen – and not weaken – democracy within the European Union.”