Similar issues emerge in Israel in connection with the functioning of the press to those observed everywhere else around the world, and the Israeli media understand the Hungarian Government’s security policy considerations, Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács stressed at the end of his three-day visit to Israel in an interview given to the Hungarian news agency MTI.

Zoltán Kovács arrived in Israel at the invitation of the second international conference of the Jerusalem Press Club (JPC), an Israeli media organisation. JPC organised a two-day gathering as of 8 May, the topic of which was the relationship between government and the press in the digital era and the state of the freedom of the press. The Government Spokesperson attended a panel discussion concerned with the relationship between government and the press.

Mr Kovács said: it was a most edifying discussion which highlighted that, at present, fundamental issues emerge regarding the functioning of the press throughout the world from the viewpoint of relations between the press and government. “Many believe that this is a phenomenon specific to Hungary, but very similar issues are being dealt with in many parts of the world”, he added.

According to the Government Spokesperson, “it was very interesting to see these issues also in Israel, while we heard some important findings and conclusions in the context of the EU and the United States as well. The most important conclusion was, perhaps, that both the press and governments must rise to the latest technological challenges, the phenomena caused by the emergence and presence of social media. We must learn how we can and must use them, and what boundaries and restrictions as well as opportunities they create at the same time”, he added.

Mr Kovács remarked that politics always seeks to find the most appropriate forms and media for relaying its messages to members of the electorate, and the press is to face a major challenge if it intends to rise to the new situation stemming from modern technology and to guarantee the authenticity of its news reports and its operation. Speed is key in new media, but the press must continue to verify news reports and ensure their accuracy.

Mr Kovács also met with the experts of The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) of Israel during the course of his visit to Israel.

He additionally had talks with representatives of NGO Monitor, a civil-society organisation which monitors the operation of non-governmental organisations concerned with human rights issues in Israel, and whose mission is to ensure the transparency of international non-governmental organisations which fail to observe accountability obligations. “It was most edifying to learn about their work, in particular because these issues also emerge in Hungary: we are seeking to take measures to ensure that international organisations calling themselves non-governmental which are funded from abroad or partially from abroad engage in their activities in a transparent manner. In other words, we seek to create transparency about where they receive their funding from, in what form, and what expectations they are required to meet in return”, he said.

NGO Monitor is funded in a perfectly transparent manner, from private donations, and the list of donors is published on their website.

Mr Kovács visited the exhibition of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust research and remembrance institute and centre in Jerusalem. He later had talks at Yedioth Ahronoth, the local newspaper with the largest circulation, primarily about the state of the media.

“We did not have to explain here to a single journalist why we regard the issue of security in Hungary as important in the context of illegal migration. They clearly understand and appreciate here the Hungarian Government’s aspirations represented not only in Hungary, but in the whole of Europe”, the Hungarian Government Spokesperson told MTI.

Mr Kovács also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesperson for internal policy and his spokesperson in charge of international press relations.