Budapest, February 9 (MTI) – A survey by the Nézőpont Institute showed that 60 percent of reports about Hungary in the German press were critical in 2016, an unprecedentedly high figure compared with the institute’s earlier surveys.
Nézőpont analyst Dániel Deák presented the survey assessing Hungary’s image in the international press at a conference in Budapest.
A total of 13,000 reports in the printed and online media of 18 countries were assessed. Unlike in the previous year, when intensive media attention on Hungary focused on the migrant crisis, last year saw a shift towards the growing international role of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Deák said.
Most reports on Hungary in the international press were published in the period surrounding Hungary’s referendum on European Union migrant quotas, he added.
Only 3 percent of international press reports concerning Hungary were favourable, 68 percent were neutral and 29 percent were critical, he said.
The highest number of reports about Hungary were published in Germany, followed by Austria and Slovakia. Coverage was the most positive in Serbia, Israel and Slovenia and among all the media assessed, Italy’s La Repubblica was the most supportive of Hungary.
The German papers most critical of Hungary rejected the country’s migrant policy and slammed the referendum on migrant quotas. Some 78 percent of the German media criticised Hungary for the quota referendum as against an average 37 percent of the press in all the countries assessed. Deak said that among the German papers, Die Tageszeitung and Suddeutsche Zeitung were the most critical of Hungary.
The Italian and French press were also highly critical, with 50 and 51 percent of reports, respectively, expressing a negative view. The Russian press published the lowest proportion of critical reports about Hungary at 6 percent, he added.
Government spokesman Zoltán Kovács told the conference that the German press was being used for political purposes and they applied double standards against Orbán, who had been under attack despite most of his proposals on Schengen’s renewal having been endorsed by the EU.
Kovacs said that contrary to Nézőpont’s assessment, he had the impression that last year’s international press coverage about Hungary was more moderate. A large part of the criticism was directed at the government’s earlier conflicts and not its 2016 policies. Kovács said the cabinet has been rightfully persistent about its position without which it would not be able to fulfil its goals.
Adam LeBor, Hungarian correspondent for The Economist and Newsweek, told a panel discussion that the current uncertain global political situation and the EU’s crisis gave a chance for Hungary to increase its influence despite its small size. When it comes to the treatment of migrants, however, he said Hungary should not forget the shelter many countries gave to Hungarians forced to emigrate, he added.
Kovács said in response that comparing the Hungarians who fled the country during WW2 or after the anti-Soviet uprising of 1956 with the migrants arriving in Europe today was a “great historical error”. The Hungarian prime minister was able to draw the necessary conclusions about the migrant crisis much earlier than others despite having access to the same information, Kovács added.
Boris Kalnoky, a journalist for Die Welt, said that Orbán’s position on migrant policy was indeed opinion-shaping and has become consensual. However, it should not be forgotten that Germany’s interests are different from Hungary’s, he added. Had Angela Merkel been Hungary’s prime minister, she would have had a fence built on the border, too, but the German chancellor had to keep in mind that an annual 300,000 people are missing from the German labour market, Kalnoky said.
Source: MTI/Nézőpont Institute