Hungary’s something of an outlier – both in the European Union (EU) itself, and on the continent of Europe, that is much larger, and crucially, more complex, than just the 27-member EU bloc itself.
After the Second World War, Hungary was locked behind the Iron Curtain having even experienced a failed rebellion against the Soviet dominion in the 1950s, that was squashed militarily.
Therefore, you might expect Hungary to be that Eastern European EU member-state most eager to get with the new, “democratic” program – yet, it’s one most often at odds with the official policy handed down from Brussels.
Why? Is it because Hungary, thanks to its recent history, simply has no taste for political diktat – while it recognizes it swiftly – or because the country is now ruled by some haphazard bunch of right-wingers that will just go away in time?
The website Politico sure seems to like to think the latter would eventually prove to be the case. Hungary’s popular – and populist government – has, over the past several years, butted heads with the EU on a number of issues, most notably regarding the handling of immigrants coming to Europe from the Middle East.
There have also been other vital issues like energy and security, which sometimes went against apparent EU preferences.
However, the issue of reporting on Greta Thunberg – a teen climate change activist – might seem ludicrously minuscule in comparison with all, or any of that.
But Politico tells us it is not – because Thunberg’s activities are somehow bundled up in this report with issues like “banned coverage of reports from leading human rights organizations.”
And who knew it – “editors working in (Hungarian)state media are provided with lists of sensitive topics, and any coverage related to the issues mentioned requires staff to send draft content for approval from higher up.”
Next up – will Politico inform its readership about “internal emails” (because that’s what the Hungary report is based on) regulating editorial practices of other state-funded media like the BBC, RT, Deutsche Welle, Radio Free Europe, and the like?
But not everybody has the same overarching concerns.
“This is censorship – pure and simple,” said Julie Majerczak, who heads the Brussels office of media freedom NGO Reporters Without Borders, quoted in reaction to what Politico said were leaked emails regarding Hungary’s current media guidelines.
Meanwhile, Radio Free Europe, a Cold War media service that seemingly naturally left Hungary once the Cold War was over, and as that country joined both NATO and the EU – now seems to be planning a return.
The goal is “to boost independent reporting and fight disinformation.”