BBC’s correspondent in Budapest: Fidesz has opened Pandora’s box
In Hungary, it has always been difficult to stand in the centre. Now the ‘with or against us’ mentality is developing in the country again which was typical in the days of communist leader Mátyás Rákosi in the early 50s – said Nick Thorpe, BBC Central Europe Correspondent living in Budapest in his portrait interview to HVG.
Thorpe: Hungary is moving away from the European values
‘My first home is leaving Europe while the second one moves apart from the values of Europe’ – said the correspondent who was born in England and has been living in Budapest for 32 years. He decided to become a journalist after Mikhail Gorbachev was elected general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1985. He arrived in Hungary in February 1986. Before he was studying in England and Senegal and
his original plans were to remain for half a year in Budapest.
However, he found love here, and he has five boys now.
According to him, the job of a journalist is to criticise the actual government. Because of this, he got himself in trouble many times during the Kádár-era. Furthermore, today the Fidesz-government is accusing him of
intervention in the domestic affairs of Hungary.
Lately, he has written a book on the topic of migration for which he has become public enemy No 1 in the eyes of the government.
He said to HVG that he came to Hungary in 1986 because it was a very exciting era and since he was the only Western correspondent in the country all of his articles were exclusive. His first sources were journalists who could not write anything but wanted their information to be published. For his reports, even the Hungarian communist party’s most influential daily, Népszabadság attacked him, and he was summoned in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
‘There is paranoia everywhere’
He was not expelled because the British ambassador of those days spectacularly stood up for him and said that
if Thorpe was expelled Népszabadság’s correspondent in London would be expelled, too.
Talking about the present Thorpe highlighted that he feels like the Hungarian political elite wants the journalists to serve them again. In Hungary, it was always difficult to stand in the centre. Now the ‘with us or against us’ mentality is developing in the country again which was typical in the days of communist leader Mátyás Rákosi in the early 50s – he added. According to him, there is paranoia everywhere. This is because when Fidesz gains power, they never stop enjoying what they reached but
they always want more and more influence.
They act as if they were in opposition. He feels sorry for those Hungarian investigative journalists who have to work in a country where the government can win the elections only with an anti-immigration agenda even though migrants do not want to remain in the country. According to him, in the case of Hungary, nobody should talk about immigration because migrants who cross the border want to leave the country. There is a
cynical political game going on today in Hungary
suggesting that everybody should think about the other people as potential threats. Moreover, the only aim of this campaign is to win the elections. However, this does not strengthen the social cohesion, and he does not think that it makes people happy for long.
Talking about leaving Hungary Thorpe cleared that he would like to remain even though it is difficult to live in a country where xenophobia is increasing.
Featured photo: facebook.com/nick.thorpe.94