“A campaign of disinformation against Hungary has been going on for eight years; it has been built on a narrative that is perfectly suited to ensuring that people who want to find out about Hungary from traditional media get a totally different picture of the country than is the reality”, State Secretary for International Communications and Relations Zoltán Kovács declared.

Speaking at an event to launch the report published by media observer Médianéző entitled Still Against a Headwind - Hungary’s International Media Image 2018, Mr. Kovács said: “It is pointless trying to reposition ourselves against a narrative that has already placed us in the corner, and which has painted an image of us that we know very well from the international press. The most and best that we can do is to stick to the narrative that we tell about ourselves, he added.

“The story and statements we tell about ourselves (…) are definitely closer to reality than the narrative that is being spread about us, for instance in the Western European press”, he said. “There is no better proof of this than the three consecutive two-thirds majority victories at the parliamentary elections, and the fact that the Fidesz-KDNP party alliance has been leading the popularity lists continuously for thirteen or fourteen years”, he added.

“The Government’s efforts have been aimed, and are aimed, at providing opportunities. We have made nothing mandatory, (…) we have opened up opportunities that the Hungarian people can take advantage of if they would like (…), and if those work, then everyone can take a step forward”, Mr Kovács stressed.

“If something didn’t work, the will to correct was always present in the Government”, he noted.

According to the State Secretary, during the past two to three years, and particularly since the migration crisis, a marked turnaround can be seen in what the press actually thinks about itself. “Western European papers, opinion formers and publicists are engaging in politics. They have become the primary tools and bearers of those political statements that they believe to represent the Western European majority”, he said.

“This is not the case, and the divide that exists between Western opinion formers, left-wing liberal politicians and ‘consumers who have a sensible view of reality’ is opening to an increasing extent”, he stated.

According to Mr. Kovács, this increasing intent cannot be maintained for long, and this will be reflected in the results of the European Parliament elections, if not sooner. “We hope that a turnaround will occur with which European institutions will successfully be regained from the hands of those who have hijacked them into taking a totally different path and approach”, he added.

With relation to certain non-governmental organisations (NGOs), he stated: “They are shaping the negative picture they have created of Hungary in network form”.

The State Secretary said the sensible voices that have appeared in the media during the past year, and which primarily concern Hungary’s economic successes, are a welcome development. “A marked change also occurred in this respect between 2017 and 2018. The factual, unbiased, or even ‘positively inclined’ writings about Hungary in Central Europe and the countries of the Visegrád Group indicate and imply that Central Europe ‘makes sense again’, and that a Central European identity and unique view of the world exists”, he said. He drew attention to the fact that Central Europe will never be like Western Europe, and if Brussels does not take into account and accept the reasons for this, then it will be impossible to find pan-European solutions.

At the launch of the media observer centre’s analysis of Hungary’s international image, Director of the Médianéző Bánk Levente Boros said the latest report on 2018 comes to a similar conclusion than the organisation’s 2017 report: The presentation of Hungary in the international media continues to occur “against a headwind”: no tangible change has been experienced, the number of neutral articles remains high (61 percent), and the number of critical and unfavourable articles (36 percent) are in an overwhelming majority compared to positive articles (3 percent).

The centre processed the politically relevant presentations of Hungary published by the 120 most influential printed and online international press outlets. The research encompassed 18 countries and 15 language regions, and examined articles published between 1 January 2018 and 31 December 2018.

“We saw that in the previous year the international media became more active with relation to Hungary in comparison to 2017. The increase was primarily the result of the 2018 parliamentary elections, with the Sargentini report and the responses to it coming in second, and the Gruevski affair placed third”, Mr. Boros said.

“Similarly to 2017, in 2018 Germany’s media was the most critical of Hungary”, he stated.

According to the report’s summary, the most attention to the country came from Eastern and Central Europe, and although fewer articles on Hungary were published in Western European countries, they were “much more hostile”: while the ratio of critical articles from media within the region was just 19 percent, 47 percent of Western media articles were critical of Hungary.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)