Hungary PM 'ready for battle' over disputed media law

16th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban Sunday robustly defended a controversial media law that has attracted widespread international condemnation, saying he was ready to fight for the legislation.

"I accept the battle, even as my opponents in Hungary and Europe are plotting their campaign," Orban told Germany's mass circulation daily Bild in an interview set to appear in Monday's edition.

"I am used to headwinds ... from the period of opposition under the communist regime," he added in comments published in German.

Budapest has come under fire from media and rights groups, as well as European governments, for the legislation, which came into force on January 1, just as Hungary took over the presidency of the European Union.

Under the law, a new authority -- headed by a close ally of the prime minister -- has the right to impose major fines on media outlets and force journalists to reveal sources on issues related to national security.

Orban said he would "not accept special regulations for Hungary. We will not allow rules that other EU countries have for their media to be forbidden us in Hungary."

"If there are enough reasons to enact such a law, then you have to go through with it."

Following an international outcry that has cast a shadow over Hungary's assumption of the rotating EU presidency at the start of the year, Orban said Budapest might amend the law if Europe demanded it.

Hungary would "of course bow" to the European Commission if it decides the legislation contravenes European law, the prime minister said.

On Wednesday, Orban was due to outline his country's EU programme to the European Parliament, but the media law was sure to be an issue during the debate.

© 2011 AFP

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