Foreign Ministry: Refugees are to be blamed for assault on journalists

Author: Tamás Koncz Original title: A menekültek tehetnek az újságírók megveréséről
Publication: Date: 18/09/2015

Foreign Ministry: Refugees are to be blamed for assault on journalists

The chaos in which reporters may have been injured was brought on by the “attack of the immigrants” – this is the position of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the Hungarian police assault of a Serbian TV crew and several other foreign journalists at Roszke. They also consider the Serbian police to be at fault.

Not only the refugees but foreign journalists also received their share of Hungarian tear gas and rubber batons Wednesday afternoon at Roszke. The clash can be seen on footage shot by Russia Today.

The riot police kicked a Polish, a Slovakian and an Australian photographer, and they also beat up members of a Serbian television crew, employees of the Serbian national RTS channel.

No Apology

After the clashes near Roszke, Origo sent a letter to the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. We wanted to know:

– whether the ministry received an official diplomatic note of complaint or objection from the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

– if the Hungarian ambassador to Belgrade had been summoned to answer for the case

– whether the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is making preparations to apologize for what had happened.

To these questions, we did not receive an answer. From the response, however, the Hungarian foreign ministry’s position is clearly implied: an apology is not under consideration and the Hungarian police are not responsible for the assault.

They Hit First

The response of the Hungarian police was professional and proportionate. During the attack of the immigrants the police were defending themselves against the assault of an aggressive group.

“If a reporter was also injured in the clash, this is only due to the chaotic situation brought on by the attack of the immigrants,” informed us the press office of the foreign ministry in the conditional. They also raise questions about the responsibility of the Serbian police.

Why did they not respond?

According to them, if the Serbian police had intervened in time, if they had kept order on Serbian territory, then the immigrants would not have been able to clash with the Hungarian police.

The ministry added that Peter Szijjarto consults with Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic on a regular basis.

There could be more attacks

I do not exclude the possibility of another attack that would have to be prevented by the Hungarian police – said Janos Lazar (Minister of Prime Minister’s Office – trans.) on Thursday at the 23rd Government Info (Thursday press conference immediately following weekly cabinet meetings – trans.).

This is because, according to the minister, the refugees are more inpatient and aggressive; what is more, they are unwilling to cooperate.

According to the minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, though photos from Roszke were shocking, the police acted with professionalism when putting a stop to the unrest on September 16 – the Greek and the Macedonian police would have been much tougher under similar circumstances.

There was a beating?

The police firmly denied taking into custody or beating journalists in Roszke. According to their official statement, an Australian, a Slovakian and a Polish citizen are facing criminal proceedings “on strong suspicion of committing the felony of illegally trespassing the border.” This suggests that the journalists were probably carried to the Hungarian side of the border by the crowd of refugees rushing forward.

Detectives questioned the three journalists as suspects, but all three of them have been released pending adjudication of their cases, according to . At the same time one of the reporters, the Slovakian Jacek Tacik posted on his Twitter page a picture of the holding cell in which he and his colleagues spent the night from Wednesday to Thursday.

The police also denied that their colleagues in Roszke beat anybody. According to their position, they merely employed proportionate and forceful methods against members of an aggressive group. The employees of the media stayed at the location on their own responsibility and despite being warned by the police multiple times.

They have medical reports

The statement of the Hungarian police stunned the reporter of the Serbian television channel. According to Jovana Djurovic it is not true that the police employed forceful measures against an aggressive group “to a necessary and proportionate extent.”

“When we started shooting, the situation was calm, there were no clashes taking place” between police and the refugees, Jovana Djurovic said.

“We have proof that we were assaulted, told Jovanna Djurovic to Origo. According to medical reports prepared in Subotica hospital, the reporter’s upper arm has bruises. Her colleague’s injuries include a broken hand with bloodshots over the body.

“I have never seen police charge at protesters without any prior sign or warning, and beat everyone in their way without selection,” said the reporter of the Serbian national television to Origo.

Protest by the Serbian television

The Serbian national RTS television channel did not leave without comments the assault on its employees: they voiced their protest to the Hungarian government and to the Hungarian ambassador in Belgrade. They also made contact with the Serbian ambassador in Budapest as well as with the European Broadcasting Union – Origo has been informed.

RTS also demands compensation for the smashed and damaged equipment. What they consider most problematic, however, is that the Hungarian police dispensed with international agreements permitting journalists freedom of pursuing their profession.


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