Western media often condemns Hungary based on incomplete information and that is why every now and then British-Hungarian author Tibor Fischer will write articles in defense of his ancestors’ country, news and opinion portal Mandiner wrote in an interview.
“There is a kind of arrogance in the way Western journalists write about Hungary. They come to Budapest for a weekend and then make summary judgments in their writings,” Fischer said in the interview. The 61-year-old Fischer, born in Stockport, is the son of Hungarian handball players who emigrated to the United Kingdom after the failed 1956 anti-Soviet uprising and settled in London. He grew up in London and studied Latin and French at Peterhouse, Cambridge.
The author believes that the Hungarian government is so popular for a reason and that reports about the demise of democracy in Hungary are false:
“Most critics point out that human rights are being violated in Hungary, that democracy is being demolished – but in most cases this statement is not substantiated by real examples. If a government has a two-thirds majority, it has much more room for maneuver, but that’s part of the game of democracy. Whoever has such a majority can do almost anything,” he said.
He also indicated that because Hungary is a democracy regardless of what the press claims, saying, “It is also part of democracy that if people don’t like it, they will nicely replace this government. One of the keys to Orbán’s success is doing his job well, being good at what he does.”
Fischer’s first book “Under the Frog” — partially based on the story of his parents — was written in 1992 and received the Betty Trask Prize for literature. It was the first debut novel to be shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize. Since then, he has written another seven books, including the 2014 “The Hungarian Tiger”, a profile of both Hungarian politics and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
He first came to his ancestral Hungary in 1982 to visit his relatives and was back again in 1986 while doing a BBC documentary about the 1956 uprising. During the country’s transition from communism, he was the Budapest correspondent of The Daily Telegraph.
“Things began to change slowly: new papers appeared, the press began to write on topics they had not previously mentioned, an opposition figure was invited to television political programs here and there, and so on. These were all signs that the communist regime was slowly disintegrating. No one knew where the processes were going, in 1988 everything was in flux,” Fischer said. “Negotiated regime change has begun, and not only in Hungary, but in Poland and finally in the entire Eastern bloc. Eventually, the collapse of the Soviet Union also occurred.”
He said that as an already established writer, he began writing articles in the British press in defense of Hungary and dispelling misconceptions because he does not like “ignorance and stupidity”.
“I did so not in the interests of the political defense of the Hungarian government, but because it was disturbing that Hungary was regularly treated as a banana republic in the British papers,” Fischer said. “I know exactly that not everything is perfect in Hungarian politics either, so you can criticize the Hungarian government in many ways, but it is a democracy, and Viktor Orbán is neither a far-right politician nor an anti-Semite.”
Title image: British-Hungarian author Tibor Fischer. (Mandiner/Márton Ficsor)