In a press conference held after the summit of EU heads of state and government in Brussels, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that a recent dispute between Hungarian pop singer Ákos Kovács and Magyar Telekom "may seem minor, but it raises important questions of principle and of a constitutional nature".

Mr. Orbán said that the identity of the artist, the contracting party, is not important; it is, however, a government obligation to ensure that parties have an opportunity to put forward their opinion, even though others may disagree. “The case is about freedom of expression”, he added.

Mr. Orbán said that the main question is whether it should be possible for a large international company operating in Hungary to abuse its power and penalise someone because it does not like his or her views.

The Hungarian prime minister said that not a single company should be denied the right to conclude a contract with whoever it wants, but “it is contrary to the Constitution if someone terminates a contract it has already entered into on the grounds that it does not like someone’s opinion. […] This is a form of oppression, this is an abuse, and I think this should not be accepted”.

"The question is whether an international company may penalise someone because it does not like that person's views," Mr. Orbán said. He noted that Magyar Telekom is a government strategic partner and "it must respect values that are protected by the Hungarian constitution".

With regard to the comments made by Ákos Kovács, Mr. Orbán said that women will decide about their own lives, and there is no point in intervening in that. The Prime Minister stressed that debate is a good thing, but the question is whether such discussions can be held in a civilized, intelligent and open manner. "Democracy is hard to imagine without debates on values", he said.

Magyar Telekom terminated its sponsorship contract with the singer, because it said that the nature of comments made by the performer in a television interview was not compatible with the beliefs and values of the telecommunications group. In an interview with Hungarian channel Echo TV, Ákos Kovács had given his opinions on the role of women in families and society.

On Thursday, the Government instructed all ministries to terminate their mobile internet contracts with Magyar Telekom. The company had objected to the singer's comments in a television interview, in which he said: "Role of women is belonging to someone, giving birth and being mothers".

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister)