Strasbourg (MTI) – A public hearing on the situation of the Hungarian media was held at the European Parliament on Monday evening, organised by MEPs of the opposition Democratic Coalition.
In a video message to the event, OSCE representative for freedom of the media Dunja Mijatovic said that though the Hungarian government had made minor changes to its original media law, those amendments were not satisfactory.
Mijatovic insisted that the rules had not been applied very often in the past two years, their very existence had a paralysing effect and made journalists exercise self-censorship. She called it important that open dialogue should be held with the Hungarian government on the matter.
Austrian green MEP Ulrike Lunacek said that the EU should give an example to countries wishing to join the community through making members meet Europe’s criteria even after their accession.
Dutch Liberal MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld said that on top of the media law she saw Hungarian regulations as restricting freedom in several other areas such as education or justice. Referring to the United States’ recent entry ban on Hungarian officials, she called the US procedure humiliating and lacking public information. Europe’s democracy should be protected by its own residents, and each party had better take care of their own business, she suggested.
MEP of Luxembourg Frank Engel said Hungary’s government was on a dangerous path, and warned that once a country joins a club, it must observe that club’s internal regulations. He said he would not like to see Hungary find itself in the wrong club one day.
The hearing was attended by cabinet state secretary Zoltan Kovacs, who criticised the organisers before the event for failing to invite an official representative of the government. He called the hearing a political show, and said it had largely focused on other issues than the freedom of the media.