Budapest: 28 June, 2011


Hungary is determined to protect state interests when it comes to an official foreign visit, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in parliament on Monday, in response to questions regarding a recently prevented demonstration in support of Tibet.

Orban said “this is a free country, we do not wish to prevent any demonstrations against foreign visits.”

Hungarian MPs wear Tibetan Flag T-Shirt during  Parliament session
Hungarian MPs wear Tibetan Flag T-Shirt during Parliament session. photo: Barakonyi Szabolcs

However, he added, demonstrators are expected to refrain from undermining government efforts which serve the nation’s interests, adding that all measures within the scope of law will be taken to protect state goals connected with such visits.

“Freedom of expression is okay, scandals or trouble-making is not,” he said.

A demonstration by refugees and activists during a Friday visit to Hungary of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was stopped by police at the site, a pro-Tibet support group said in a statement.

Andras Schiffer, parliamentary leader of the opposition green party LMP, told a press conference the prevention of the demonstration could not legally be justified and it is clear the government had blocked the demonstration “to protect Chinese-Hungarian relations”.

The Help Tibet Society wrote in a statement on Saturday that staff of the immigration authority BAH on Friday evening had summoned to its office Tibetan refugees living in Hungary legally, having residential and work permits. Further, police had blocked demonstrators from the site of a visit by the Chinese premier, the statement said.

The measures triggered immediate protest from LMP. Deputy head of parliament’s human right’s committee Timea Szabo called on the leaders of Budapest’s police force to give evidence to the committee in connection with their handling of people who wanted to protest in support of Tibet.

Ombudsman Mate Szabo on Monday initiated an investigation to establish whether the Hungarian authorities had violated the rights of assembly and expression, and the ban on discrimination, with their actions.

On Monday, the Freedom Circle, an organisation of politicians and public figures, among them three European lawmakers of the ruling Fidesz party and Gergely Gulyas, a Fidesz MP, signed a statement condemning government action against the Tibet supporters.