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Hungary defies Merkel's criticism of new press laws

Published: 24 Dec 2010 11:07 GMT+01:00

"As for the poor German chancellor – she has been dragged into this," Orbán said in sympathy for his German counterpart, after Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Hungary over its new laws. Orbán said that Merkel's spokesman had simply said that an EU state must abide by EU norms. "Hungary is doing that," Orbán asserted.

Merkel released a critical statement this week after the Hungarian parliament passed a law establishing a new body with powers to oversee public news production and levy high fines on private media that break rules on political journalism.

Hungarian author György Konrad compared the law to measures taken in the early phase of the Nazi regime. "It reminds me a lot of 1933, when the National Socialist party came to power with a electoral majority under apparently democratic conditions," he told German newspaper Berliner Zeitung.

Merkel's statement said the German government viewed the legislation with "great attention." But some European parliamentary members allied to Merkel ridiculed the criticism of Hungary.

Markus Ferber, European parliamentary leader for the Christian Social Union – sister party to Merkel's Christian Democratic Union – called the attacks on Hungary "laughable," saying that much was exaggerated.

"We don't dream of changing the law," Orbán said Thursday night on Hungarian TV. He said there was not a single clause that did not conform to comparable laws in "some" EU country. "I'm not inclined to react to parliamentary debates or the western reaction with trembling knees," he said.

DPA/The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

13:28 December 24, 2010 by catjones
"Defy" is not the correct word. Hungary is a sovereign country and does not, yet , report to Germany. "Reject" might be a better choice.
16:56 December 24, 2010 by storymann
True,, catjones but hard to comment on this when there is no information as to what

kind of power they would have over the media,I can only assume from the article that it is not censorship.
19:00 December 24, 2010 by romber58
Does anyone know why there is so little detail about this story?----Julian ,can you help?
23:52 December 29, 2010 by wxman
I imagine WWII will remain fresh in Hungarian minds for some time. Ergo, they would even oppose Germany declaring the sun rises in the east.
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