Hungary Wants to Ban National Policy Institute Conference

Margit Feher, Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2014

Hungary wants to ban a conference, scheduled for later this week, of the U.S.-based National Policy Institute, which the Central European country’s government considers extremist and racist.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban ordered Interior Minister Sandor Pinter on Sunday to use all legal means at his disposal to prevent the conference, scheduled for this weekend in Budapest.

“Ever since [it came into power in] 2010, this government has been the strongest bastion against any form of extremism in Hungary and also in Central Europe,” Zoltan Kovacs, Hungarian government spokesman, told The Wall Street Journal on Monday.

“We oppose this conference from every aspect,” Mr. Kovacs added.

The NPI said it is disappointed and puzzled by the Hungarian government’s action and that it will obey the laws of Hungary. Much about the event “might have been ‘lost in translation’ or, . . . [Hungary] is responding to untruthful messages sent by those who oppose the Congress as well as the very notion of traditional identity,” the NPI added.

“Though some might disagree with opinions that are voiced at our event, nothing about the conference violates Hungarian law,” it said.

The conference will be an opportunity to discuss culture, society, geopolitics, and the future of Europe, it added, insisting that the conference will take place.

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Hungary’s ministry of foreign affairs and trade said in a release that it’s “unacceptable that an extremist American racist origination should hold a conference with Russian radicals here in Hungary” and thus damage Hungary’s international reputation.

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The venue, Larus Conference Center, where the conference was originally to be held, said it had cancelled its contract with the organizers and will be closed Oct. 4. The ideology of the planned event “doesn’t meet [Larus’s] goal to ensure the civil liberties to the right to assembly for democratic and civil organizations and individuals,” Larus’s management said in a release.

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