According to Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács, an article published by American news agency Bloomberg on 1 June, asserting that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán “is the key figure in a populist wave creating tensions that threaten to divide Europe”, paints a skewed picture of Hungary.

In a letter to the editor published on the Bloomberg website on Wednesday, Mr. Kovács writes that the new agency “listed the usual litany of charges, painting a skewed picture of today’s Hungary and, by extension, distorts the meaning of what’s happening in the many parts of Europe that are saying no to unbridled, mass immigration”.

According to the Bloomberg article published on 1 June, critics of the Hungarian Prime Minister believe his rhetoric goes against European Union fundamental values, and the fact that a new group of oligarchs with political connections now controls an increasing proportion of the Hungarian economy is also cause for concern. The news agency refers to American billionaire businessman George Soros as a philanthropist, whose financial support was at one time also enjoyed by Viktor Orbán. The article also states that the Soros-financed Open Society Foundation (OSF), which is “one of the world’s biggest funders of NGOs,” is being forced to decamp from Budapest to Berlin because of a “crackdown” against non-governmental organizations.

In his letter, the Government Spokesperson pointed out that “few discerning observers would call the work of George Soros philanthropy”. In the Government Spokesperson’s view, the OSF is a fund for ideologically driven political activism, and the “crackdown” simply means groups that survive almost exclusively on foreign funding come under stricter rules. These groups carry out activities that are blatantly partisan and drive an agenda that seeks to influence political outcomes, Mr. Kovács writes.

Over the past several years, the U.S. and other western democracies have been consumed by the controversy that a foreign power may be meddling in their free elections. Then it should surprise no one that countries, including Hungary, are imposing tighter rules on these foreign-funded political groups, Mr. Kovács pointed out.

The Bloomberg article claims that during the recent election campaign Viktor Orbán was able to increase his level of support by targeting Muslim immigrants, whom he called “intruders”. The Hungarian State erected a fence along its southern border to protect “Christian Europe” and “forced asylum-seekers into internment camps”, the American news agency wrote.

In response, the Government Spokesperson said that when nearly half a million people flooded into Hungary illegally and in flagrant disregard for all international rules in 2015, it did indeed feel like an invasion. The Government Spokesperson pointed out that asylum-seekers have never been forced into internment camps: “We built processing centers where they would be compelled to wait until their asylum claim was decided. They have always been free to turn around and leave”. With relation to the border security fence, Mr. Kovács noted that Hungary’s southern frontier is an external border of Europe’s Schengen zone, and accordingly Hungary is also protecting Europe’s border “out of solidarity”.