Govt Spox: Gap Between Western Elite, Public Growing
Miklós Halász-Szabó 2018.10.01.
Government spokesman Zoltán Kovács, in an interview to the Monday edition of daily Magyar Idők, identified a “significantly growing gap” between the views of Europe’s western elite and the general public about Hungary’s policies concerning the challenges faced by the continent.
While the opinion of left liberal politicians and groups who see themselves as Europe’s leading elite has not changed over the past eight years, voters who have had to face mass migration and deteriorating public safety have realised the need for a change in the continent’s policies, Kovács told the paper.
“The reflection of this change of opinion has been most apparent in Austria, Germany and Italy,” he said.
Kovács said Hungary had an “overall negative” image in Europe’s mainstream media, adding, however, that with the campaign for the European parliamentary elections getting under way, this has started to change.
There have been reports in the western press that have shown appreciation for Hungary’s consistent policies on the issue of migration and Europe’s future, Kovács said. “There are signs that European voters are waking up,” he added.
“We can’t expect much understanding from the mainstream media,” the government spokesman said, adding that social media was the most effective platform for discussing Hungary’s positions.
Kovács said the “asymmetrical media coverage” of the Sargentini report approved by the European Parliament last month and the “way it was handled without criticism” demonstrated the “double standards” he said have been applied towards coverage of Hungary for the past eight years. “The attacks we’ve seen over the past eight years are a good demonstration of how right, centre-right or Christian Democrat parties are never given equal opportunities on the international stage to leftist and liberal parties,” he said.
“Earlier, before 2015, the Hungarian government was being taken to task for its concept of democracy and since then it has been about migration, because the government has a different opinion on the future of Europe than liberals,” he said.
Concerning Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and French President Emmanuel Macron’s “battle” in the EP election campaign, Kovács said the European political arena pitted pro-migration politicians against those who oppose migration.
Kovács said that, “given his tanking popularity in France”, Macron was not focusing on campaigning to French voters, but was rather concerned with “presenting a globalist, trans-European approach”.
“If we look at the efforts Paris is taking to strengthen French culture and language in the EU and its former colonies, then what we see is pure nationalism,” he said. “Macron’s remark that he won’t let nationalists defend their national sovereignty gives away his real motives,” Kovács added. “Our mentality, on the other hand, is obvious. It is based on national sovereignty and the mentality that forms the foundation of the EU, which says that Europe is an alliance of nations, with the emphasis being on nations and on the form of cooperation that is good for everyone.”
On another topic, Kovács said the Hungarian government did not just have to deal with the opposition media “but also opposition NGOs, who do damage with their false messaging”. He said NGOs had no democratic legitimacy or voter support but still had a “serious influence on politics through their mass communication channels”.
“This asymmetry is strengthened by the fact that these organisations have but a few dozen to a few hundred members,” Kovács said. Taxpayer donations, he said, were only enough to cover a fraction of their expenses, “while they receive most of their funding from foundations linked to [US financier] George Soros, international human rights organisations or corporations”.