Commenting on the US initiative to fund media organisations in Hungary with a view to correcting what it perceives as a media landscape biased towards the government, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó called the move “shocking and unusual”.
Szijjártó said it was not normal practice for “a democratic country to start financing the media of another allied democratic country from its own budget”.
At a news conference held on another topic on Wednesday, Szijjártó was asked why the US charged affaires had been summoned to the ministry.
Referring to the US initiative sponsored by the state department to fund media beyond the capital through a bidding procedure, the minister asked:
“What is this if not interference in domestic affairs?”
He said many questions had been put to the American state department regarding the intervention, and the government awaited a response. One question, he said, concerned whether there were any other countries allied to the US that had received similar treatment.
The Hungarian government “rejects the policy of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries; we do not do that and we also expect our allies not to do it,” Szijjártó said.
Referring to the timing, the minister added:
“What is this if not interference in the internal political processes of Hungary during an election campaign?”
The results of the bids for funding are expected to be announced in January. The 2018 election is expected to be held in April.
Asked about criticism in the European Parliament of Hungary’s “National Consultation” public survey, Szijjártó said it was “amazing” that in Brussels, “which is thought of as a stronghold of democracy”, the opportunity for democratic consultation was being condemned. He said it would be better for MEPs to “let us decide on our own affairs”.