Atlatszo.hu published visitor records from Hungarian ministries

Our requests for making public the list who have visited the offices of ministries in order to mount lobby were only partly successful. Some of the repliers said that the requested data are secret but there were also some who felt free to disclose them.

Based on the case of Zsuzsa Németh Minister of the Hungarian Ministry of National Development – which has showed that the ministry neglectfully does not make list of their visitors regularly – atlatszo.hu has sent FOIA requests to other ministries, too. Here is a summary of the most often received replies and arguments: The Ministry of Rural Development refused our request by referring to the argument that they simply do not keep such records at all. The Ministry of Public Administration and Justice, the Ministry of National Development and the Ministry of Defense rejected our request, using the same argument word for word.

That was that many of the appointments belonged only to the preparation process of the decision-making and so this information could not be in the public interest. The most accurate answer came from the Ministry of Interior which is led by Sándor Pintér. They sent us more documents with daily information about their visitors in March. The guest list included, among others, the American Ambassador Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, Csaba Hende, the Minister of Defence, Zsolt Semjén Deputy PM or Hajdu János, the general director of the Counter Terrorism Centre.

We also received a similarly detailed response from the Ministry of Human Resources. Their visitors were, among others, Róbert Alföldi, Andy Vajna, Gulsat Mammedowa, the education minister from Turkmenistan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had visitors such as Gusztáv Zoltai, Péter Feldmájer, the American ambassador, Cornelia Pieper from Germany, and several ministers of foreign affairs from countries like Russia or Indonesia. The Hungarian National Bank does not belong to the category of ministries but out of curiosity, we sent them requests, too. According to their answer György Matolcsy welcomed guests like Sándor Csányi from OTP, Mihály Patai from UniCredit Bank and Zoltán Spéder from FHB but the list did not include private visitors.

This article was originally published in Hungarian language on 28 May 2013.

Translated by atlatszo.hu volunteers.