Hungary Needs NGO-s

On 21 March 2017 the Hungarian Europe Society signed a joint protest declaration as one of its initiators against the threats presented by the Hungarian government to civil organisations.

Signatory NGOs

There is no society without civil society: Hungary needs us. 

The work of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is essential to Hungarian society. We do diverse and irreplaceable work while striving for the common good and the achievement of democracy:
the self-organisation of citizens provides shared opportunities for cultural, educational, health and environmental advocacy. Moreover, it allows groups of citizens to jointly represent their interests, participate in public life, and keep the political power of office holders in check at all times.

We, the undersigned NGOs resolve to reject the Hungarian Government’s aspirations to restrict and stigmatise civil society. We are indispensable to Hungarian society to deal with and monitor matters that others do not pay enough attention to. We stand up for ourselves and for each other.

Hungary needs NGOs

Parliament’s legislative plan for the first half of 2017 includes the intention to amend the regulation which defines the legal functioning of NGOs. During a press conference held on 14 March 2017, it was announced that Fidesz-led coalition would initiate a five-party consultation on a draft law concerning "foreign-funded" organisations. The actual content of this so-called “national consultation” is yet unknown. However, some politicians have gone so far as to propose that the process be used as a method to “clear away” certain NGOs, while others labelled particular NGOs as foreign agents.

We the undersigned NGOs, strongly protest. Pursuing such a legislative agenda would infringe upon the freedom of association. Furthermore, we reject the attempt to stigmatise NGOs, their clients, sympathisers and supporters. Such a move not only impinges on the perception of the valuable work and credibility of organisations in question, but also limits of democratic expression and the possibility of citizen participation in public affairs as a whole. Based on statements concerning the proposed legislation up until now, the modifications would run contrary to international conventions signed by Hungary, and probably not pass the test of constitutionality.

We maintain that the so-called "national consultation" is an unsuitable method to assess the true facts and state of public opinion. Based on past experience, it is clear that this cannot be a substitute for real social debate.

The current Hungarian regulation regarding the NGO sector provides an adequate framework that guarantees legal safeguards, as well as the transparency and accountability for the activities for which the civil organisations were established. Management transparency is already sufficiently regulated, as highlighted by data made publicly available in a number of press releases.

Therefore, it is unacceptable that we can only keep abreast of information concerning the new legislative ideas and "national consultation" from the press when certain politicians make statements to discredit civil society. We anticipate that the formulation of any new law (amendment) must involve stakeholders and professional debate before it reaches its final form; as one would expect in a democratic constitutional state, and as required by Hungarian law.

We demand that the regulation governing the functioning of civil society’s fundraising and activities be transparent, and that it be consistent with international and European standards. Most importantly, the regulation must guarantee the right of citizens to freely associate, organise their activities and search for funds.

Pictures of a Workshop

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    Zsuzsanna Szelényi, István Hegedűs
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    Krisztina Rozgonyi, Gábor Halmai, Györgyi Kocsis
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    Fanni Bársony, Zsuzsanna Szelényi, Dóra Győrffy
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    Balázs Váradi, Dóra Piroska
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    László Bruszt, Zsófia Stahl, Daniela Lenčéš Chalániová
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    András Radnóti, István Hegedűs, László Bruszt
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    István Hegedűs, László Bruszt
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    István Hegedűs, László Bruszt, Lenčéš Chalániová
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    Tomasz Pawel Wozniakowski, Kim Lane Scheppele, Laurent Pech, Tomasz Koncewicz
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    Kim Lane Scheppele, Laurent Pech
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    László Bruszt, István Hegedűs
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    Orsolya Salát, Oliver Garrner, Renáta Uitz, Zsuzsanna Végh
  • DSC 2006
    Laurent Pech, Tomasz Tadeusz Koncewicz
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    Dimitry Kochenov
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    István Hegedűs
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    Zsuzsanna Szelényi, Kálmán Petőcz
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    Christian Joerges
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    Gergő Medve-Bálint, Erik Uszkiewicz, Zsófia Stahl
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    Renáta Uitz, Zsuzsanna Végh, Kata Nagy
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    Dóra Piroska, Wojciech Sadurski, András Radnóti
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    Tomasz Koncewicz, Györgyi Kocsis
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    Renáta Uitz, Zsuzsanna Végh, Kata Nagy, Véta Tarjányi, Krisztina Rozgonyi
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    Fanni Bársony, Péter Molnár, Tomasz Pawel Wozniakowski, Kim Lane Scheppele, Laurent Pech
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    Gergő Medve-Bálint, Erik Uszkiewicz, Zsófia Stahl, Fanni Bársony
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    András Radnóti, Dimitry Kochenov


Takis Pappas, visiting scholar at the Central European University made a presentation entitled "What do the people distrust when they decide to trust populism?" on 8 February 2017.

  • 20170208 191102Takis Pappas, András Schweitzer, Erik Uszkiewicz, Fanni Bársony, Zsuzsanna Végh
  • 20170208 191250Takis Pappas, Mustár dog

A Dramatic Year

On 28 December 2016, HES held its traditional annual workshop where HES members made presentations to HES members. The following lectures were given at the event: Ernő Simon (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees): Better Protecting Refugees in the EU and Globally, Petra Jeney (European Institute for Public Administration): Some Legal Aspects of Brexit from an EU Perspective, Attila Bartha (HAS Centre for Social Sciences Institute for Political Science): Can Populist Economic Policy Be Successful? 

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    Imre Koncz, Jerzy Celichowski, Orsolya Zámbó, Krisztina Stump, Gábor Erőss, Emese Lafferton, Emma Gothár, András Radnóti, Ernő Simon, Dorka Mező, Zsófia Stahl
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    Ernő Simon
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    Zsuzsanna Végh
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    Györgyi Kocsis, Petra Jeney
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    Krisztina Stump, Emese Lafferton, Anita Bakos, Zsófia Stahl
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    Györgyi Kocsis, Attila Bartha
  • IMG 7033Ádám Szuly
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    István Hegedűs, Kinga Szuly, Mustár

Declaration of the Hungarian Europe Society on the Judgement of Fidel Castro

The Hungarian Europe Society (HES) has been witnessing with great bewilderment and concern, that the European Commission has refrained from referring to Fidel Castro, following his passing, as what he really was: a dictator. We are expressing our outrage at the statement of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who stated “With the death of Fidel Castro, the world has lost a man who was a hero for many” and whose legacy will be judged by history. Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission wrote: “Fidel Castro was a man of determination and an historical figure.”

We believe that there is no need to wait for the judgement of history. We know that Fidel Castro and his communist single-party system were responsible for the massacre of several tens of thousands of people since he came to power in 1959. His regime incarcerated thousands of Christians, civil activists and LGBT people besides the members of the political opposition in prisons and work camps, and the regime violated the basic civil liberties, such as the rights to freedom of speech and opinion, as well as the freedom of assembly. The human rights situation in Cuba is very dire up to this day: according to information from the opposition, this year alone six thousand people were arrested for political reasons. We firmly believe that not even the death of Castro is a good enough reason to keep silent and relativise the crimes of the Cuban communist regime. Doing so undermines the historical significance of the Central and Eastern European region and denigrates the sacrifices of the many millions of victims to the communist regime. 

Our concern is heightened by the fact that the statements from the EU leadership following the death of Fidel Castro come at a time when it would be the absolute duty of the European Commission to stand up to those member states (Hungary, Poland) that at this very moment are questioning the basic values of liberal democracies and are putting efforts into dismantling the system of checks and balances. The President of the European Commission bares a political responsibility to protect our common European values and human rights, thus cannot allow himself such declarations. There is a real risk for the European Union to lose credibility if it doesn’t stand up incontestably against existing or developing dictatorships, whereas it stands for human rights and democratic values on the global stage. The Hungarian Europe Society therefore endorses the statement made by the European Commissioner of Trade Cecilia Malmström, who declared: “Fidel Castro was a dictator who oppressed his people for 50 years”, and remarked that she found it strange to hear all the tributes. 

We express our hope that Cuba, following a peaceful and successful transition will soon join the community of democratic States. 

2 December 2016