According to Zoltán Kovács, the critical article recently published in the Guardian on the state of press freedom in Hungary, written by the left-wing British daily’s political review writer, publicist and historian Timothy Garton Ash, “simply doesn’t square with the reality of today’s Hungary”.

In his reply, which was published in the letters section of the paper, the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister’s State Secretary for International Communication and Relations underlines: “Your correspondent frets over the freedom of the media in our country, yet I first read his article in our own domestic press”.

According to Mr. Kovács, “stridently critical news portals in Hungary attract a larger daily readership, and  these also have a dominant audience share on TV, where some 71% of Hungarians get their information”.

The State Secretary recalls that according to Timothy Garton Ash the governing parties have “effectively demolished the independence of the judiciary”.” But in fact, Hungary’s reforms of the judiciary were thoroughly reviewed by the EU and the Venice Commission and all questions were resolved”, Mr. Kovács states in his response.

“Garton Ash’s ideological convictions are defied by facts”, he adds. Amongst these, the State Secretary mentions that voter participation in Hungary has been going up, not down, the number of marriages has also gone up since 2010, while the number of divorces is down, and the number of abortions has fallen by almost a third.

Mr. Kovács also stresses that the birth rate is up and rising and the employment rate of women is at an all-time high, while Hungary’s GDP growth leads the EU today at over 5%.

“Unemployment has dropped to historic levels, interest rates remain low, and real wages are growing. Hungarians who left following the 2008 financial crisis are now returning in far greater numbers”, the State Secretary writes in his reply.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)