Hungary's E.U. role questioned

Saturday, January 1, 2011; 5:50 PM

Congratulations for the Dec. 26 editorial "The Putinization of Hungary." Vladimir Putin's Russia is not a member of the European Union; Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Hungary is. This formidable institution is not only a business and trade organization, it also claims to represent common European values. In view of the latter, is Hungary ready and worthy to take on the presidency of the community, as it was scheduled to do Saturday?

The latest news is indeed alarming. Tolerance levels are extremely low. Racism, discrimination against the Roma, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, chauvinism and reactionary nationalism - these symptoms are deeply worrying. They evoke memories that we have hoped were long forgotten. Many people are scared.

The latest media laws are just the last link in a sequence of shocking events. Many of these concern the arts. The E.U. presidency is an honor and responsibility. The E.U. and the United States must keep an eye on Hungary. The E.U. must set the standard for member countries. We must guard and respect our common values.

Andras Schiff, Florence, Italy

The writer, who was born in Hungary, is a concert pianist.

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