Zoltan Kovacs – Photo: kormany.hu

Kovacs: Government policy not influenced by Western media

Hungarian government policy is not influenced by what is said about it in the Western media, the state secretary for international communication and relations told a conference on Thursday.

The “media attacking Hungary” aim to “completely stymie and quarantine the government that has won four consecutive two-thirds majorities,” Zoltan Kovacs told the Nezopont Institute’s event on Hungary’s image in the international media. Kovacs said there had been “no chance to change this narrative” over the last 14 years, arguing that “the other side … has no interest in such a dialogue”.

The state secretary said Hungarian politics and the Hungarian narrative “rest on reality”.

He said the government aimed to pursue policies based on national interests even if its decisions did not align with what other countries or those working at European institutions thought.

Kovacs said it was unlikely that there would be fewer conflicts between Hungary and the Western media in the future, mainly because of Hungary’s pro-peace position on the war in Ukraine, the European Parliament election campaign and Hungary’s upcoming European Union presidency.

Bank Levente Boros, the Nezopont Institute’s director for political analysis, said that according to a study analysing 19,153 mentions of Hungary in 100 politically relevant media platforms of 18 countries, Hungary has been getting more and more media attention in recent years.

He attributed this to Hungary’s pro-peace stance on the Russia-Ukraine war, adding that increasingly often, a neutral perception of Hungary tended to become either positive or negative. In the Anglosphere in particular, news stories about Hungary now tended to be more critical in tone compared with a more neutral view in the past, while most Russian news stories now tended to mention Hungary in a positive context.

Boros said the number of positive pieces written about Hungary had increased slightly in French, Spanish, English and Italian-speaking territories, while the number of Polish-language pieces with a positive tone had decreased last year.

In a panel discussion about perceptions of Hungary in the Western media, German journalist Georg Gafron said there were more critical opinions of Hungary than positive ones. He said journalists should present reality instead of being “propagandists” or “philosophers”, adding that four-fifths of German reporters covered the news from the perspective of the Greens and the Social Democrats.

As regards Hungary’s pro-peace stance on Ukraine, Gafron said more than two-thirds of Germans were in favour of supporting Ukraine and “very afraid of the Russians”, which was why it was harder for them to understand Hungary’s position.

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