In a strongly worded statement, Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has accused Hungary of violating international agreements concerning administration of European Economic Area and Norway Grants in Hungary. Friday’s press release quotes Norway’s Minister of EEA and EU Affairs, Vidar Helgesen, as saying:
I am deeply concerned about the actions of the Hungarian authorities in relation to civil society and their attempts to limit freedom of expression. The EEA and Norway Grants are designed to strengthen fundamental European values. The Hungarian authorities’ violation of the agreement on the EEA and Norway Grants is in breach of these values.
The press release sets forth Norway’s position on the controversial audit of NGOs responsible for administering three funds intended to support civil society in Hungary.
Norwegian officials have categorically rejected Hungarian government accusations that organizations with ties to opposition parties are being funded to the exclusion of other NGOs. Recipients of EEA and Norway Grants to date include Transparency International Hungary, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and investigative journalism website Atlatszo.hu.
The Hungarian prime minister’s office then instructed government auditors to audit the NGOs. Objections that they fall outside the jurisdiction of government auditors appear to have fallen on deaf ears.
According to Friday’s press release senior officials from Norway and Hungary will meet on 12 June to discuss what each side considers to be breaches of the agreements governing the administration and implementation of the EEA and Norway Grants in Hungary.
Referenced in this article: