February 28, 2012

Renewed Call for RFE Broadcasts to Hungary

On February 27, 2012, the Washington Post publshed an opinion editorial (op ed) by Mark Palmer, Miklos Haraszti and Charles Gati entitle "Support democracy in Hungary with new Radio Free Europe broadcasts."

Mark Palmer was the U.S. ambassador to Hungary from 1986 to 1990. Miklos Haraszti, a Hungarian author, was the representative on freedom of the media for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe from 2004 to 2010. Charles Gati is a professorial lecturer in Russian & Eurasian studies at Johns Hopkins University’s Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

According to them, "There are seious reasons for bringing back RFE's Hungarian broadcasts, which ended in 1993."

The first is the current demise of Hungarian media freedom, both the root and the finest fruit of all other liberties.

Second, one of the lessons of Europe’s last century is that broadcast monopolies by nationalist governments lead to international tensions and conflicts. Indeed, Orban’s anti-democratic measures could encourage politicians in nearby Slovakia and Romania to imitate his combination of anti-foreign sentiments and denial of free debate on public airwaves.

Third, given the similarities in recent Russian and Hungarian attacks on the United States, Hungary may well be the first ideological outpost of Putin’s constitutional dictatorship. Supporting the European Union’s repeated warnings about Hungary’s democracy deficit, Washington should take steps to counter emerging authoritarianism in Central Europe before it becomes a trend. 

When it seemed that pluralistic democracy and a free market had taken root in Hungary, Radio Free Europe appeared to have fulfilled its mission. Now those values are officially deposed, and a legal system has been built to prevent their comeback even after the next elections. Restoring the Hungarian service could be a crucial step in promoting fair and decent values in Hungary, and in protecting democratic achievements elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe.


  1. Thanks!

    "......A new Hungarian channel, by making full use of gifted editors and reporters in Hungary, should become a hub for quality journalism, a provider of inclusive debates and fair information, inviting to all and detached from all. By cultivating rational and civilized debates, it should be a wellspring for democracy and good journalism. It should not revive the confrontational spirit of the early years of the Cold War, nor should it even turn into an opposition channel broadcasting only “bad news” that gets omitted by the official and semi-official media....."

    it is nonsense.

    It's only about the name, the fame and the nostalgia. (but good to hear and read it!)


  2. The whole article is false and absurd, written by men who have definitive political agendas and other interests (research their names). As a US liberal, I have little in common with the Hungarian left who are still reeling after a 2/3 majority election outcome for the center right.

    As far as the premise that Hungary is blocking media outlets, CNN confirmed that all Turner channels are unavailable on T-Home due to "commercial concerns." CNN is available on the other cable providers. Criticism should be based on fact lest it lose credibility. Hungary does not need Fox (Faux) News - it had 50 years of it.