‘From the Soviet era’: Danish MEPs hit out at Hungary over anti-migration Facebook video

'From the Soviet era': Danish MEPs hit out at Hungary over anti-migration Facebook video
Guy Verhofstadt and Marton Benedek of the Hungarian opposition party Momentum brief the media in front of a billboard showing Hungarian PM Viktor Orban. Photo: REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/Ritzau Scanpix
Several Danish members of the European parliament have spoken out against a controversial Hungarian anti-immigration video.

A number of Danish MEPs have criticised the video, which has been targeted towards Facebook users in Denmark.

The video attributes pro-migration views to Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group in the European Parliament, by using a 2014 clip of Verhofstadt which is taken out of context.

Verhofstadt has twice this week asked Facebook to remove the video, which he said was “demonstrably manipulated” and “heavily distorted”, the Financial Times reports.

“This reminds me of something from the Soviet era, when propaganda blossomed in this way. This is a state making manipulative propaganda in order to influence citizens in another country,” Social Democrat MEP Jeppe Kofod said.

“It’s an attack on our freedom and our sovereignty in Denmark. I consider it over the line and a provocation,” Kofod continued.

“This breaks with the free democracy we have in Europe and we cannot accept it. I will raise the issue with Hungary,” he said.

Posted by the Hungarian government’s official Facebook page, the video has been spread across the EU, with target groups including Danes over the age of 32.

Morten Helveg Petersen, an MEP with the Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party, said he had not previously experienced anything like the ad.

“This shows there are forces in Europe which do not want to promote an open and free society. These are the kind of methods used in an organised, state-sponsored campaign of fear,” Petersen said.

The video represents an escalation in tensions between Hungary and the EU, according to the Danish MEP. The union has warned its member state on a number of occasions about potentially anti-democratic activity.

Not all Danish politicians consider the video worthy of criticism.

Kenneth Kristensen Berth, MP with the anti-immigration and Eurosceptic Danish People’s Party, dismissed the remarks made by the two MEPs.

Berth said it was “a little peculiar for another country’s government to send out a message in that way,” but had no issue with the message itself.

“I think the way it is presented is within the realms of fairness,” he said.

“So I don’t think there’s any need to reach the hysterical level Jeppe Kofod and Morten Helveg are doing here,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Hungarian government said of the campaign that, “while hundreds of people are being killed in terror attacks,” Verhofstadt “wants more migration”.

“He and his clique of European liberals are pushing for more migration. That is crazy and we will not let it go unanswered,” he said to news agency Ritzau.

“Mr Verhofstadt said himself that he wants more migration. We don’t want more migration. Not just illegal migration – ‘regulated’ migration is also against our principles,” the spokesperson continued.

At a Brussels summit last week, President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker accused Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán of spreading ‘fake news’.

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