Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: Government rejects doubts over Hungary’s democratic nature

The Hungarian government is always prepared to engage in dialogue on specific issues and laws but it firmly rejects remarks that call into question Hungary's democratic nature, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday.

Hungary does not feel a need for any external authority or any other country to certify its democratic nature, the foreign ministry cited Szijjarto as saying at the council’s session held as part of Hungary’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

The Hungarian people had to fight for their freedom throughout the country’s entire history, Szijjarto said, adding that this guaranteed that the people would never tolerate a government violating their fundamental rights.

The minister said Hungary in recent years had faced “politically-motivated” criticisms of the state of the rule of law in the country because it had a right-wing Christian Democratic government that pursues “patriotic policies” that are in its national interest and was committed to its national identity and heritage, adding that this went against the international liberal mainstream.

Szijjarto said the European Union was drifting increasingly farther away from the fundamental values that had made it strong, but Hungary remained committed to those values.

Addressing the questions he had received regarding Hungary’s family and migration policies and media freedom, Szijjarto said the government last year had spent 6.2 percent of GDP on family support measures, three times the OECD average.

As regards Hungary’s contested child protection law, the minister said it was about giving parents the exclusive right to decide on the sex education of their children. He said it was untrue that the law was against the LGBT community, arguing that it did not apply to adults.

Szijjarto called migration one of the biggest challenges and a dangerous phenomenon which posed security, cultural and now with the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic even health risks.

Addressing criticisms of the state of media freedom in Hungary, he said that media freedom to the mainstream meant that “95 percent of the media is liberal”. The Hungarian government, on the other hand, believes it means that all media outlets and journalists can freely express their opinions irrespective of their political and ideological views. Szijjarto said the reason behind the criticism levelled at Hungary was that the country had recently seen a rise in conservative media outlets. If those criticising Hungary understood Hungarian, they would see that Hungary’s leading media outlets in every market segment are critical of the government, he said.

The UPR has been carried out every five years since 2008 after the restructuring of the Human Rights Council.

The first review of Hungary was conducted in May, in 2011, followed by an interim review in 2014.

Hungary’s last review by the Human Rights Council was in 2016.

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