Hungarian govʼt quits pro-transparency organization

History

Hungary is exiting the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a multilateral pro-transparency initiative, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán writes in a government decree published in the latest edition of official gazette Magyar Közlöny, in which he orders Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó to inform the organization of the decision, according to reports.

“OGP’s vision is that more governments become sustainably more transparent, more accountable, and more responsive to their own citizens, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of governance, as well as the quality of services that citizens receive,” the organization’s website writes. In order to meet the vision of the organization, governments of the participating countries require a shift in norms and culture to ensure genuine dialogue and collaboration between government and civil society.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement sent to Hungarian news portal index.hu that the organization has “become a basis for lecturing countries,” instead of discussing good government practices, arguing that the organization “does not engage in real dialogue,” but “distorts facts and prepares unilateral reports.” The statement adds that in reports, “the opinions of so-called civil organizations judging Hungary have been published,” while the government’s answers on the issues have been ignored, according to index.hu.

The statement goes on to say that “it makes no sense to maintain our membership” in an organization that has moved away from the aims and principles set at its foundation, according to index.hu. Szijjártó is reported to have informed the organization of the decision.

When Hungary joined the initiative in 2012, the government embraced membership. According to an announcement at that time, posted on official government website kormany.hu, the government said: “Our aim is to establish governance that is transparent and open, and handles public money and national assets with responsibility.”

Lately the Hungarian government has been widely accused of handling matters of public interest in an opaque way. Such accusations have been rejected by the government.

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