Skip to main content

Hungary censors Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International - And why the European Union needs to stand up

Orban rally in 2012 (photo by Derzs Elekes Andor via Wikimedia Commons)


On November 29 Hungarian news outlet Nepszava reported that MTVA, Hungary's government controlled news agency, ordered its staff to ban statements from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Censorship of human rights-related content is yet another step towards authoritarianism in the country.

Freedom House ranks Hungary as "partly free", giving it a score of 70 out of 100. "Hungary’s status declined from Free to Partly Free due to sustained attacks on the country’s democratic institutions by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party, which has used its parliamentary supermajority to impose restrictions on or assert control over the opposition, the media, religious groups, academia, NGOs, the courts, asylum seekers, and the private sector since 2010," Freedom House writes in a 2019 report.

The Council of the European Union (EU) will hold a hearing on Article 7 proceedings against Hungary on 10 December to determine whether Hungary is in breach of the EU’s core values and rule of law.

The EU is considering tying funding to rule of law criteria which would penalize Hungary and other countries that have taken an illiberal turn in recent years.

Hungary's economy is heavily dependent on the EU. In 2017 82% of Hungary’s exports went to EU countries (Germany 27%, Romania, Slovakia, Austria and Italy all 5%), while just 2% went to the United States and Ukraine.

75% of imports came from EU Member States (Germany 25%, Austria 6% and Poland and the Netherlands 5%), while 6% came from China and 5% from Russia.

The EU also sends funds to Hungary. In 2017 the EU provided 4.049 billion euros to Hungary, accounting for 3.43% of its gross national income (GNI). Hungary only contributed 821 million euros to the EU budget.

Hungary received funding from the EU after the 2008 financial crisis. In 2008 Hungarian authorities applied to the EU, the IMF and the World Bank for financial assistance and received 5.5. billion euros from the EU.

In November Hungary's Justice Minister Judit Varga described possible cuts to EU cohesion funding as "unacceptable", adding that Hungary does not support a rule-of-law mechanism "which could lose its intergovernmental nature and provide the European Commission with another tool to apply political pressure."

Hungary is a sovereign state and the EU cannot undo the policies that the government of Viktor Orban has pursued. However, the EU should not be funding authoritarian states. A value-base economic policy should be a priority both within the EU and in trade relations with non-EU states.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Will The Huawei Case Finally Awaken Democrats To The China Threat And The Danger Of Faux Free Trade Rhetoric?

Huawei Shenzhen office building (by Raysonho  via Wikimedia Commons) On January 28 the Department of Justice of the United States unsealed two cases against Huawei , China's largest telecommunications company, and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.  Huawei has been accused of trying to steal trade secrets, committing bank fraud, breaking confidentiality agreements and violating sanctions against Iran. One indictment claims that Huawei attempted to steal trade secrets from T-Mobile by promising bonuses to employees who collected confidential information. Huawei is not a company like any other. Over the years it has benefited enormously from the support of the Chinese Communist regime. The founder of Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, joined China's army during the Cultural Revolution . In 1978 he also joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).  In the early years Huawei's sources of capital were high-interest loans (20%-30%) from Chinese state-owned enterp

China releases anti-Uighur propaganda film "Black Hand"

Mosque in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, as photographed in 2008 (photo by jun jin luo via Wikimedia Commons) The People's Republic of China (PRC) has released a propaganda video titled "The black hand — ETIM and terrorism in Xinjiang", in an attempt to shape the narrative surrounding its crackdown on the Uighur Muslim ethnic minority. The propaganda film links the Uighur population to Islamic terrorism, thus trying to justify the indiscriminate persecution of the entire Muslim population. "For decades, the [East Turkistan Islamic Movement] which has close links with international terrorist organizations perpetrated countless terrorist attacks aiming to separate the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region from China," writes China's state-run television network CGTN. The East Turkistan Islamic Movement, or ETIM, was reportedly founded by Hasan Mahsum, an Uighur from Xinjiang's Kashgar region. He was shot dead by Pakistani troops in 2003. In 2002 the Unite

Washington Post correspondent in China Gerry Shih assaulted for walking with Caucasian European

Gerry Shih, a China-based correspondent for the Washington Post, was assaulted on a Beijing street for "walking with a Caucasian European," according to a Tweet he posted on November 29. The assailants allegedly shouted at them: "F*** your American embassy!" Sign of the times: roughed up in Beijing street tonight for walking with Caucasian European. Neither of us said we were American but their parting shot was “操你美国使馆” pic.twitter.com/ekPLNsLBnj — Gerry Shih (@gerryshih) November 29, 2019 In recent years the Chinese Communist regime has intensified its anti-foreign rhetoric as Xi Jinping has sought to consolidate the power of the Party and rid China of perceived "foreign influence". Foreigners in China have been targeted by the government and anti-foreign sentiment has been enouraged. This year arrests and deportations of foreign teachers in China have increased amid a government campaign to promote "patriotic education." An inc