Június 18-án a Winnipeg Free Press tényeket mellőző és alaptalan vádakat tartalmazó véleménycikket jelentetett meg Magyarországról, amelyre Palkovits Valér főkonzul a szerkesztőségnek megküldött alábbi levélben reagált.
I was stunned to read an article in your opinion section titled „Football needs to talk about Hungary” with the subtitle: „Oppressive government under spotlight as Budapest hosts Euro matches.” written by Jerrad Peters on June 18, 2021.
It saddens me and many others that while Europe, including Hungary, is living a time of football euphoria there are certain individuals, such as the author of the opinion article, who are taking situations and events out of context and arriving at negative political conclusions. The author not only ignores facts, but comes to very hurtful and severe conclusions which must be addressed, and which the newspaper has ignored. Unfortunately, we have (had to) learn that positive messages are many times neglected by the press and only negative opinions constitute news.
The freedom of the press and opinion we all respect, however this must be based on facts, and not twisted to derive an outcome which does not exist. To this end, I must address several unfounded criticisms and harsh accusations found in the article. First it must be made clear: Hungary does not have a fascist government! Hungary has a legitimate government elected by a great majority of the voters and it governs based on democratic principles and rule of law. To throw around the term “fascist government” shows that the author does not understand the meaning or the weight of what he is talking about. Pertaining to this, I would like to point out that Prime Minister Orbán has a zero tolerance policy regarding Anti-Semitism. It was his government that passed a law punishing Holocaust denial, made Holocaust education compulsory and launched a program to renovate Jewish synagogues and cemeteries even beyond our borders – just to name a few examples. The Hungarian Jewish community is the largest in all of Central Europe with dozens of synagogues, a full Jewish education system from kindergarten to university and the annual Jewish Cultural Festival, one of the biggest and most popular events in Budapest. Our Israeli friends recognize all these efforts as well. While Jewish institutes and restaurants are attacked or under increased police watch in Western Europe, no such protection is needed in Hungary. Despite this, and much to my continued bewilderment, my country continues to be accused of anti-Semitism, fascism. These claims are not only outrageous, but at the same time extremely insulting.
The article states that “Homophobia has been central to Viktor Orban’s fascist ideology”; this cannot be further from the truth. Homophobia was not and is not the driving force of this government. The Orbán government has been focused on creating jobs and ensuring the welfare of its citizens. The author makes out the law in question as one that is there to restrict and censor the rights of the LGBTQ+ communities, which again is false. The law was implemented to tighten the laws against pedophiles and pedophilia and make those laws stricter in order to protect the rights of children.
The article goes on to write that the government is undermining women’s rights: another misinterpretation of the government’s policy and politics. One of the main goals of the current government is to help the institute of the family. The government wants to provide families with better living conditions and circumstances, and obviously women are in the focal point. The government wants to give women the means and tools to best exercise their right to choose between being either a mother or one who pursues a successful career. Many legislative changes have taken place to ensure nobody endures hardships or discrimination if they either choose to be a full-time mother or a career woman; their rights are protected. There is a list of many such measures and at the end of the day, the choice is in their hands.
Finally I must address the false pretence of the refusal of safe entry for asylum-seekers. I see that there is a confusion of terms between refugees and migrants and often they are called asylum seekers. However they are not the same and must be treated differently, as the basis of determination is different as well. Hungary is fully respecting the international norms on asylum seekers. At the same time Hungary, just like any other sovereign country, needs to keep the interests of its own citizens in the forefront. On a daily basis, Hungary struggles to keep its borders safe from those who are trying to enter the country illegally across the green zone of the border. This is the country’s duty, and is the duty of every state. To label the Christian –Conservative Hungarian government fascist because it is defending its borders from those who chose to try to enter the country illegally is unfounded, insulting and ill-willed. One may think that the Hungarian government is violating some sort of international law, but the facts show a different reality and something that needs to be pursued in objective reporting and writing.
I must also remind you, the author and the readers, that when Hungary’s neighbour, the former Yugoslavia was waging a war amongst its member states, and many were fleeing the atrocities of this war there was no question that Hungary felt a responsibility to help those people. In the current case Hungary has the responsibility to protect the external borders of the European Union as a Schengen Zone member and help those in need in their country of origin. At the same time Hungary is a sovereign country, just like Canada, and can decide who it lets into its borders.
Last but not least, thanks to the rapid and effective measures taken by the Hungarian government, Hungary has an advantage of six to eight weeks with regards to vaccinations compared to all other countries of the European Union because we procured vaccines sooner and vaccinated people faster. Hungary is among the first as far as the restarting of life is concerned, that’s why fans can enjoy the Euro2020 games in the Puskás Stadium.
Facts are important when we draw conclusions and formulate harsh and disparaging words. I am always at your disposal and open to discuss any topic pertaining to Hungary. Further I am willing to help anybody with facts about Hungary, to ensure a well-rounded picture is composed for the readers.