Politics

EP President Says He Will Try To Talk Hungary’s Prime Minister Out Of Anti-Soros Campaign

EP President Antonio Tajani’s cabinet chief will discuss Hungary’s public survey on the so-called “Soros plan” with Hungary’s EU envoy by phone, while the President will discuss it with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in person, an EP spokesperson said on Wednesday.

The spokesperson said that contrary to earlier reports, Hungary’s ambassador to the EU will not be summoned over the government’s “national consultation” survey. However, Tajani would discuss the matter with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in person when they meet at an EU summit in Gothenburg next week.

Tajani and Orbán, key figures of the European Peope’s Party (EPP), know each other very well (photo: 8400info.hu)

Earlier on Wednesday, Guy Verhofstadt, the head of the liberal group in the EP, announced on Twitter that Tajani would summon Hungary’s ambassador to the EU with a view to stopping the public survey on the “Soros plan”. “On my request, the President of the European Parliament will summon the Hungarian Ambassador to the EU in order to stop the so called National Consultation against Soros,” Verhofstadt said in his tweet.

Socialist Party MEP István Ujhelyi also said in a statement that Wednesday’s session of the EP’s Conference of Presidents had touched on the issue of the nationwide public survey on the Soros plan. “Not even the European People’s Party group defended Orbán’s circle on this issue,” Ujhelyi said. The Socialist MEP said he was under the impression that Tajani would also speak with Orbán by phone to “ask for an explanation on this matter”. “This is a scandal! This is the shame of the Orbán government,” Ujhelyi said.

The Hungarian Government Information Centre reacted by saying that the EP had decided to “defend George Soros and the Soros plan”. It said that under the EP’s decision, EU member states – especially those that had yet to take in any migrants – would be mandated to take in migrants without an upper limit.

Verhofstadt slams Orbán, State secretary hits back

Meanwhile, Cabinet office state secretary Csaba Dömötör has hit back at EP liberal group leader Guy Verhofstadt’s recent criticism, dismissing it as “part of a regular attempt” to pressurise Hungary. Dömötör reacted to social media postings by Verhofstadt in which he calls on Brussels to make clear that campaigns like the government’s survey are incompatible with European Union values.

In Facebook entry posted on Tuesday, Verhofstadt slammed the campaign as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s “populist quest to reinforce his autocratic rule by generating fear”. “Mobilising citizens against an alleged external threat, just months ahead of parliamentary elections, targeting Soros in person, is disgusting,” said Verhofstadt, adding that it reminded him of “the worst times of European history”.

In reaction, Dömötör said: “The reality is that the liberal politician who regularly lectures Hungary clearly supports the proposals that the consultation is about.” The state secretary noted that Verhofstadt had called on Hungary before last year’s referendum on EU migrant quotas to vote “yes” for the resettlement of migrants in Hungary. He said that after this it was “gravely impudent” of Verhofstadt to deny the “plans” referenced in the survey. Dömötör also argued that Verhofstadt’s call for the EU to condemn the survey went against the freedom of expression.

All Hungarians have a right to express their thoughts on “the completely irrational and risky relocation plans”. He said Verhofstadt’s “offensive remarks” only gave Hungarians further reason to take part in the survey. If Verhofstadt truly cared about democratic values, he, too, would ask the European people what they think about illegal migration and migrant relocation plans, Dömötör said.

via hungarymatters.hu and MTI; featured photo: Jean-Francois Badias – AP