Weekly newsletter

BBC Correspondent: “It’s Difficult To Make An Interview With The Hungarian Premier”

Tamás Székely 2016.04.18.

It is almost impossible to learn the proper pronunciation of the Hungarian language, BBC correspondent Nick Thorpe said in an interview with conservative daily Magyar Nemzet. The British journalist, who has been living in Budapest for thirty years now, first visited Hungary in 1983 to attend an anti-nuclear demonstration. However, he decided to stay in the country to become a volunteer correspondent for different British media outlets, including BBC, which had reporters in the region only in Vienna in the late 1980s. Thorpe, fluent now in Hungarian, said he had received a lot of support in the beginning from his Hungarian friends and colleagues who regularly gave him information they were not allowed to publish before the fall of the Communist dictatorship in 1989.

Commenting on current political debates, Nick Thorpe said he did not see major difference between refugees and economic migrants. According to him, the EU’s migration policy might be bad one, however, member states should share the burdens of the crisis, preferably voluntarily and not by the system of mandatory quotas. As an admittedly religious person, Thorpe thinks that the Churches in Hungary could also contribute more to tackle the humanitarian catastrophe at the borders. “It is not easy to speak about this, because I don’t see the world as a Hungarian”, he said, adding that “When I write about refugees with empathy, many say that I do so because of some sort of extreme political correctness. It’s nonsense. As a journalist, I must speak for those who have no voice, the poor, the victims, the oppressed, the minority.”

In the interview with the Hungarian newspaper, Nick Thorpe lamented the autocratic elements of the Hungarian political culture. In his view, the Hungarian elites, the political leaders in particular, tend to treat the people like they were miserable patients in a hospital who need to be told by the “visiting chief doctor” what to do or not to do. Thorpe said he was rather sad because Hungary had much more potential in 1990 comparing to what the country actually achieved in the last 25 years. The British journalist also said that he found very difficult to make an interview with the Hungarian Prime Minister despite they have known each other since 1988. Thorpe noted that Viktor Orbán now probably regards him as „a member of the hostile foreign press”, therefore he needs to wait for the opportunity to make an interview much longer than he expected.

via mno.hu photo: László Végh – mno.hu