The PES Group in the Committee of the Regions firmly condemns the restrictions of media freedom in Hungary and any attempts to “hack democracy”


The situation of media freedom and democracy in general in Hungary were the key topics when the chief editor of the Hungarian independent radio station Klubrádió, Ferenc VICSEK, addressed today’s PES Group meeting ahead of the Committee of the Regions’ plenary session.

“The media law that was passed last year by the ruling centre-right party, FIDESZ, has disastrous effects on independent radio stations in Hungary”, pointed out Mr. Vicsek. In practical terms, all income resources of Klubrádió have been cut by the newly created media authority. “We are unable to provide our listeners – and, in particular the younger generation – with independent information and political debate about the EU”, underlined Mr Vicsek. “For the Hungarian citizens, the very principle of democracy is at stake, this is why we must not allow that in an EU Member State like Hungary, democracy is hacked from inside”, he urged.
PES Group President Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ, Minister-President of the German-speaking community of Belgium, said: “The example of Klubrádió clearly testifies of the restriction of media freedom by the Hungarian government. It goes without saying that preventing independent information undermines the very notion of democracy”. Seeing the media law as just part of Viktor Orbán’s much larger project of bringing Hungary’s institutions under his and his party’s control, President Lambertz reminded that the new Hungarian constitution and the so-called ‘cardinal laws’ seriously undermine local democracy by taking away the financial autonomy of local authorities. “Together with our friends from the S & D Group in the European Parliament, we will fight for the reestablishment of a pluralistic media landscape in Hungary, and for the respect of fundamental values and democratic institutions“, he added.
Karl-Heinz Lambertz finally reiterated his concerns about Hungary’s position in the European Union. The recent decision of the European Commission to launch accelerated infringement procedures against the country because of the threat to the independence of Hungary’s central bank, data protection authority and judiciary raises grave concerns. Against a backdrop of growing economic hardship faced by Hungarian citizens, the weakening of local authorities is further proof that the functioning of checks and balances in the democratic system is being undermined by the current government. “As representatives of the elected local and regional authorities from all over the EU, we reiterate our unequivocal support to all forces, from media, culture, civil society and the political spectrum, who want to keep the democratic debate alive in Hungary”, concluded Lambertz.