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Szijjártó: Freedom House criticism of Hungary is ‘nonsense’

A Freedom House report saying that democracy in Hungary is deteriorating is “nonsense”, Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in a statement yesterday.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó. (Photo: kormany.hu/Gergely Botár)

“The contents of the report are nonsense, as well as the fact that people sitting in offices thousands of kilometers away from Budapest are talking about conditions in Hungary,” the minister said in the statement. He added that these and other comments in the report aim to shed negative light on the country due to the stance it has taken in the “migrant crisis” which Europe is currently facing.

“We have been elected by Hungarians; our tasks and responsibilities make us act in a way that maintains the interests and the security of Hungarians,” Szijjártó added.

Freedom House: Democracy deteriorates

The Freedom House report, entitled “Nations in Transit 2015” says that “political and economic pressures have significantly damaged press freedom in the past few years” in Hungary.

In connection with the elections, the report says that “Prime Minister Viktor Orbán ... won a second four-year term in the April 2014 parliamentary elections, retaining its two-thirds supermajority in the legislature. Observers noted media bias and recent legal changes that gave an advantage to the incumbents”. 

Commenting on the stance of civil society in the country the report says it “still largely depends on government funds, which are often handed out in a partisan manner. During 2014, government rhetoric became more hostile toward nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the prime minister and government officials accused civil society figures of being ‘paid political activists’.”

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world. The full report by Freedom House can be viewed here.