Zoltán Kovács, State Secretary for International Communications and Relations, has hit back at claims made by Aftenposten, Norway's largest newspaper. Here's what he had to say:
With less than three months until Hungary's April 3 general election (not April 4 as noted in the below-mentioned Aftenposten article), international media outlets critical of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government are busy heating up the discussion around the state of
Hungarian democracy, our election system and press freedom.
Unfortunately, their reports twist facts and bend the truth. And while we can live with irony and humor, this recent article in Aftenposten humiliates not only PM Orbán but our national symbol and election system, which is just as good as the one in Norway.
The truth is that PM Orbán does not have to “hand out candy” before the elections to gather voters. Voters will reelect him, I predict, because he has taken the country forward and delivered real results for Hungarians. By late 2021, for example, unemployment in Hungary fell back to 3.7 percent and remains one of the lowest in the European Union, while GDP growth for 2021 is expected to reach 6.5 to 7 percent. Other important measures include the HUF 200,000 minimum wage; tax cuts for families and corporations; affordable energy; and effective action against rising inflation. The list goes on. Those are the kinds of things voters care about.
Meanwhile, the opposition coalition, which the Aftenposten author fails to note, also includes Hungary’s far-right, anti-Semitic Jobbik party, would only throw Hungary into disarray. Sources inside the joint campaign are already complaining about deep “rifts and tensions” and difficulty making decisions.
Adding insult to injury, the opposition’s joint candidate for PM, Péter Márki-Zay – a figure your author calls “fearless” and “fresh” – has made a number of unfortunate, anti-Semitic statements himself. Just recently, he posted a video to his Facebook page in which he discussed, amongst other inappropriate topics, the number of Jews in the governing party of Fidesz. In the past, he has also openly backed some of the most notorious candidates of the far-right Jobbik party. How would this Potemkin coalition govern a country when they seem unable to select a suitable, honorable candidate and put together an election campaign? This is one of the key questions our Norwegian friends should be asking themselves. Far-fetched claims about authoritarianism don’t hold water, and while today’s opposition may indeed be trying something new, it’s not exactly “fresh”.
Another question to consider: Aftenposten receives more than a million EUR in state funding. What does that tell us about media freedom in Norway? Should those state resources be spent on attacking the democratically elected leader of an EU member?
Hungarian voters are no fools. They will decide on April 3, and, I predict, they will re-elect a man who has brought the country forward.
Photo credit: MTI