By BosNewsLife News Center
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– Participants at a Hungarian government-sponsored conference on the future of Europe were told to stop recording and streaming online, moments before U.S. President Donald Trump’s ex-advisor Stephen K. Bannon was about to speak.
Reporters viewed as a “threat” to Hungary’s interest were already banned from Wednesday’s event, such as Stefan J. Bos, the founder of BosNewsLife and a longtime Central and Eastern Europe Correspondent for media such as Deutsche Welle, Belgian’s VRT broadcaster, Dutch BNR Newsradio and others.
Organizers cited “a lack of capacity” in the massive venue in Budapest for the decision to ban several media workers, including also a respected correspondent of The Guardian newspaper.
It seemed at odds with one of the conference discussion topics: “Can we defeat censorship, the shaming of those who think differently…”
Bannon, described by organizers as the “former chief strategist and CEO of the Trump campaign” was to speak about “Trump’s America first policies and its impact on Central Europe”.
The Minister of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s office Gergely Gulyás praised the victory of Trump, though he is currently one of the most unpopular presidents in U.S. history.
He recalled that Bannon played a crucial role in that victory. However, in less than a year, Bannon was booted from his job as White House chief strategist, excoriated by his former boss on Twitter and exiled by the far-right website he built into a media powerhouse.
“The success of nationalist parties in Hungary and Italy — coupled with the triumph earlier this year in Prague of a president who has referred to himself as “the Czech Trump” — indicates that Europe’s populist fever is far from breaking, “said The Washington Post paper in a commentary ahead of Bannon’s visit.
Bannon has been an outspoken supporter of the Hungarian prime minister’s hard-line policies against immigration such as building anti-migration fences and detaining asylum seekers including children.
Besides Bannon, several far-right representatives were expected to attend the May 23-24 gathering on ‘The Future of Europe’, which focused on issues such as “culture wars” and “migration” as well as “resettlement,” “geopolitical challenges” and even artificial intelligence.
Bannon declined to say whether he would meet Orbán, who was elected for a third consecutive term and recently suggested he wanted to stay in his post till 2030. The 54-year-old Orbán is seen by critics as increasingly authoritarian and embracing the far-right.
His government has a tense relationship with critical and independent media. Virtually all regional newspapers have been taken over by Orbán allies who also control most national and main online media, several Western diplomats and other sources confirmed to BosNewsLife.
Some opposition-leaning dailies and other publications were effectively forced to close down or taken over by government-friendly owners. Several national and international journalists, including BosNewsLife’s Bos, have been put on a government media blacklist, after exposing anti-Semitism, corruption and other sensitive issues.
Gulyás agreed that “freedom is in danger” in Hungary and other counties but cited “globalization and business interests” as the main reason, according to leaked recordings.
The two-day conference at the recently renovated Castle Garden Bazaar on the banks of the Buda Castle in Budapest was paid for by Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.