Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban got a somewhat frosty reception in the EU parliament as he delieved a speech to kick start Budapest’s six- month EU presidency.
Orban entered the chamber in Strasbourg to signs with the word “censored” on them. Some MEPs also taped their mouths to show anger at a controversial new media law in Hungary.
Socialist group leader Martin Schulz said: ‘‘In a democracy, Prime Minister, the media control the power. With this law, it’s the other way around it’s the power that controls the media.’‘
Green group leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit said: ‘‘Today, Mr Orban, you’re on the road to becoming a European Chavez, a national populist.’‘
Earlier, in his address, Orban had warned MEPs he was up for a fight and that they should not mix a member state’s domestic policy with EU strategy.
‘‘Do not confuse your criticisms and deeds regarding Hungary’s domestic politics and the Hungarian presidency of the EU. Naturally, I am ready to fight. But if these two things are mixed, it’s not Hungary that will suffer, but the whole community of the European Union,’‘ he said.
The law in Hungary has drawn criticism from many quarters of the EU, including member states France, Britain and Germany.
All have raised concerns about restrictions and government control on media freedom in the central European country.