Orbán says Hungary made its critics look ‘ridiculous’

Hungary has made international critics of its media law look "ridiculous" and shown that it will not take orders from abroad, including from the EU, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said yesterday (14 February). Hungary is the current holder of the EU's six-month rotating presidency.

"Hungary has been attacked under the disguise of the media law," Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán told parliament. "Hungarians' democratic commitment has been questioned, [and] the respect due to Hungary and Hungarians has been violated," he said.

"The government has beaten back this attack. We made the argument of the attackers ridiculous, we have claimed and commanded due respect for Hungarians, we have made our inviolable self-esteem evident," Orbán declared. 

Hungary attracted strong criticism from many governments, human rights groups and media outlets throughout Europe after enacting the law at the end of 2010, mainly due to concerns over respect for media freedom and EU regulation.

The government, after threats of legal action from the EU, indicated late last month that it would amend the media law to comply with European rules. But it made clear that the modification would be of a technical nature and continued to insist that the law itself was fundamentally appropriate.

The European Commission on Friday said Budapest was making every effort to comply but it was too early to tell whether the proposed amendments would meet all EU concerns.

Orbán said Hungary would not take orders from anyone, including the EU.

"Nobody will mop the floor with this government the way they have done with our inept and hapless predecessors," the PM said.

"We will not accept any country or community as an inspector placed above us. So as nobody misunderstands: democracy does not exist in Hungary because anyone expects it from us or forces it upon us," Orbán added.

Alluding to orders coming from the Soviet Union during communism, he said: "Brussels is no Moscow."

"We have organised Hungary in the spirit of democratic life and freedom because us Hungarians like to live in freedom and democracy," he said.

(EURACTIV with Reuters. EURACTIV Hungary contributed to this article.)

Hungary took over the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of Ministers on 1 January 2011.

The key issues that Hungary wants to tackle during its presidency include energy, the Eastern Partnership, Croatia's accession to the EU, the Roma situation and the Danube Strategy.

But since day one, controversial legislation recently adopted by Hungary's ruling majority has been straining relations with the European Commission.

In particular, the Commission is investigating whether a contentious media law adopted by the Hungarian parliament on 21 December, along with 'special taxes' imposed on foreign businesses, are compatible with EU law.

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