On 8 November 2016, Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth visited the Hungarian capital Budapest. While there he spoke at a conference jointly organised by the Friedrich‑Ebert‑Stiftung and the Central European University on the role of the EU as a community of values. After his speech and a discussion with the audience, he met opposition politicians and representatives of Hungary’s civil society.
Basic democratic values: freedom of the media and the separation of powers
Following his talks with two suspended journalists from the closed-down Népszabadság newspaper, Minister of State for Europe Roth said: “The talks with the two journalists and the discussion with the conference participants showed that we should not underestimate what is happening in Hungary at the moment. Freedom of the media and respect for the principle of the separation of powers are basic democratic values. Every European Union member state has an obligation to uphold these values.”
Minister of State Roth’s other interlocutors included Gyula Molnár, Chair of the Hungarian Socialist Party, and former Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, who is now the leader of the Democratic Coalition. Minister of State Roth also learned about the work of the Romedia Foundation, which campaigns for the rights of Roma in Hungary.
The EU is a community of shared values
Minister of State Roth: “An active civil society is just as much a part of a democracy as fair competition between the political parties. No one needs to be afraid of that. On the contrary, that is at the heart of what defines the EU. The EU is much more than an economic partnership of convenience. It is above all a community of shared values and thus constitutes our life insurance in these turbulent times of globalisation.”