Foreign Affairs Ministry Summons American Chargé d’Affaires Over US Support For Objective Journalism

  • 16 Nov 2017 7:50 AM
Foreign Affairs Ministry Summons American Chargé d’Affaires Over US Support For Objective Journalism
Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has summoned American Chargé d’Affaires David Kostelancik over a decision by the US Department of State to fund a program to support objective journalism in Hungary, particularly in the countryside, RTL Klub reports.

The ministry initially called “unusual” the US Department of State’s announcement that it would offer USD 700,000 to support independent journalism over two years. However, it was reported Tuesday that the ministry had summoned Kostelancik to explain the US’s move to provide the media funding, calling it “political interference” ahead of next spring’s election.

Fidesz delegation leader Gergely Gulyás made similar statements at a press conference Tuesday, saying: “This is another attempt to interfere in Hungarian politics by the American elite which the rest of the world – wherever the money comes from – will not allow.”

The US Department of State, however, wrote to RTL Klub: “The assistance would only be sent after next May, so after the elections, and the money is intended for the recovery of fact-based journalism in the countryside.” The department added that it supports press freedom in more than 100 countries across the world, and that the United States had expressed its concern over the state of media in Hungary on numerous occasions.

Indeed, one possible reason for Kostelancik being summoned by the ministry is a speech he gave on October 17 at the headquarters of the Hungarian Association of Journalists in Budapest where he expressed his concern over the country’s media landscape.

“Government allies have steadily acquired control and influence over the media market, without objection from the regulatory body designed to prevent monopolies,” he said. “Most recently, companies affiliated with pro-government figures acquired control of the last remaining independent regional newspapers.”

All of Hungary’s 18 daily county newspapers are owned directly or indirectly by a few Fidesz-tied oligarchs, including Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s childhood friend and suspected straw man Lőrinc Mészáros, who himself owns some 194 publications in the country.

Source: The Budapest Beacon

Republished with permission


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