Schulz justifies EU’s Hungarian media law check

Socialists & Democrats Group in the European Parliament (EP) leader
Martin Schulz has defended the decision of the EP
and the European Commission (EC) to examine Hungary’s controversial new
media law.Critics have claimed the check might take longer than
the country’s six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union
(EU) which started on 1 January.Now Schulz has stressed it was
important to “put accuracy over speed”. He told the Salzburger
Nachrichten newspaper today (Weds): “It would be a disaster if we start a
lawsuit over a possible breach of EU rules against Hungary or limit the
country’s voting rights – and then realise that there is no legal
groundwork which justifies such measures.”The German politician
argued: “(The Hungarian media law) is a voluminous law. I believe
accuracy must matter more than speed (in examining it).”Political
leaders and newspaper commentators across Europe have attacked the
Hungarian government led by right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban over
the recently introduced media legislation which features several
disputed rules widely considered as a threat to the freedom of the press
in the country.Asked by the Salzburger Nachrichten whether
Orban was a threat to Europe, Schulz said: “Orban’s party Fidesz has a
two-thirds majority. That has to be accepted. I think he’s currently
testing how far he can go. He might have more success in Hungary than in
Europe by doing so. I can only appeal to Orban to exercise moderation.”Schulz,
who is regarded as one of the most influential Social Democrats in
Europe, said the country’s new media law “seems to contradict democratic
principles in parts.”Schulz revealed that Orban has asked to
meet him in private. “I’m happy to accept this invitation. My conclusion
from this is that the Hungarian prime minister is willing to achieve a
rapprochement.”Earlier this month, the Hungarian ambassador in
Vienna claimed that the European press is “not really interested” in a
successful Hungarian presidency of the EU Council.Vince
Szalay-Bobrovniczky 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.”The diplomat added he considered the coverage
of TV stations and newspapers in Austria as balanced in general but
“partial” regarding Hungary.