News / Europe

European Parliament Members Challenge Hungary Media Law

Parliament members protest as Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban, unseen, delivers his speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, 19 Jan. 2011
Parliament members protest as Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban, unseen, delivers his speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, 19 Jan. 2011

Multimedia

Audio

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has warned Hungary will fight back if the 27-nation European Union interferes in what he calls internal politics while his country holds the EU's presidency.  Mr. Orban spoke Wednesday while facing a largely hostile European Parliament where he was challenged about a law that critics claim endangers media freedom.

Prime Minister Orban was interrupted by European parliamentarians who condemned what they view as Europe's most restrictive media law.

The legislation, which came into force on New Year's Day, expands the state's power to monitor and penalize news media.

A Media Council, appointed by Mr. Orban's center-right government, can fine broadcasters up to nearly $1 million and websites or newspapers over $100,000 if their news coverage is considered unbalanced or immoral.

At the start of the prime minister's speech at the European Parliament session in Strasbourg, some EU legislators covered their mouth with duct tape and held banners protesting Mr. Orban's controversial media law.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (file)
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (file)

A visibly angry Mr. Orban told the legislators not to mix up criticism of Hungarian domestic politics with its tenure as president of the European Union.

He said he was ready to fight if those issues are threatening to overshadow Hungary's six-month EU presidency.

Orban said he heard with his own ears that Hungary was accused of moving towards dictatorship. He said that he viewed the accusation as an offense towards the Hungarian nation and that he would defend his home, his Hungary. He strongly denied that the Hungarian law has anything to do with dictatorship.

Mr. Orban's views were shared by the leader of the conservative European People's Party, which includes the prime minister's Fidesz party.

He also received support from British skeptics, a representative of Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi's party and members of the Hungarian far-right party Jobbik.

But several others disagreed.

The leader of the Social Democratic faction in parliament, Martin Schulz, urged Mr. Orban to withdraw the legislation.

The German politician said, "values such as freedom, democracy and justice are common goals."  Schulz said condemning legislation that does not seem to represent these values, does not mean that parliamentarians are criticizing the Hungarian people. He urged Mr. Orban not to divide Europe and added "only when all EU member states cooperate...can Europe succeed."      

The European Commission already said that Hungary's media law might not meet all of its standards for a free and fair press. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has said in Budapest that the law could undermine pluralism.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso revealed Wednesday that the EU executive would send a letter this week to Hungarian authorities asking for 'clarifications.'

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

Key stock indexes in London, Paris and Germany were down nearly three percent, while US market indexes were off around two percent in early trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs