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Council of Europe to Monitor Hungary

Mariann Őry 2022.10.13.
Council of Europe

Hungary’s ruling parties and its allies in Europe reject a recent report on the state of rule of law in Hungary and accuse the Council of Europe of pursuing a political witch-hunt.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) voted on Wednesday to place Hungary under its so-called full monitoring procedure.

Ten other member states – Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Poland, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine – are also subject to this procedure which involves “regular visits by a pair of PACE rapporteurs, ongoing dialogue with the authorities, and periodic assessments of how far a member state is honoring its Council of Europe obligations and commitments.”

According to the resolution, long-standing rule of law and democracy issues in Hungary “remain largely unaddressed.” The resolution was based on a report by Greek Socialist MP George Papandreou and Eerik-Niiles Kross, a representative of the liberal Estonian Reform Party.

They claim that the current electoral framework in Hungary “does not ensure a level playing field conducive to fair elections,” and make a series of recommendations regarding elections, the judiciary, and the media.

PACE also expressed concern at the country’s use of a special legal order since 2020, which allows the triggering of a “state of danger.” Such orders should be “strictly necessary, proportionate, and must be limited in time,” it said.

In the Assembly’s debate about the report, MPs expressed differing opinions. While a number of representatives – who belong to the left-wing, liberal groups, or the European People’s Party – supported the resolution, members of national conservative, sovereignist groups strongly criticized it.

For example, Dutch Christian Democrat Ria Oomen-Ruijten accused the Hungarian government of blocking sanctions against the “terrorist state” Russia, while in reality, Hungary supported all of the sanction packages after receiving certain exemptions to secure its energy supply. The Hungarian economy is heavily dependent on Russian energy, mainly for geographical reasons. Ironically, Netherlands’ liberal-led neighbor, Belgium is reportedly blocking sanctions on Russian diamonds. Several left-wing and liberal MPs also expressed their concerns for migrants and LGBTQ people in Hungary.

The European Parliament Continues to Aggravate Hungary
The European Parliament Continues to Aggravate Hungary

According to some MEPs of the mainstream groups, the new Hungarian laws are just cosmetic changes.Continue reading

Martin Graf of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) called the report “extremely tendentious, politically motivated, and one-sidedly manipulative in places.” “I cannot shake off the impression that parts of this report are an expression of a national as well as international hunting party against a successful center-right politician in Europe, in this case, Viktor Orbán. According to the motto: If he cannot be beaten at the ballot box, we’ll harness the international bodies to ultimately shake up the clear order created by the voters,” he said.

“The report is difficult to take seriously as it is full of vague and misleading statements. The sources cited are not objective,” Bob De Brabandere, MP of the Flemish Interest (Vlaams Belang) party noted in his report, which was submitted in writing due to time restrictions. “Somebody who reads this report would believe it is immensely dangerous to live as a gay man in Hungary, even though the truth is that it is much safer for a gay couple to walk hand in hand on the streets of Budapest than it is in the shadow of the European Parliament in Brussels,” he pointed out.

“The international Left is again attacking Hungary on the basis of false claims,” Zsolt Németh, the head of the Hungarian delegation in PACE told Hungarian news agency MTI. The governing Fidesz party’s politician, together with Christian Democrat MP Lőrinc Nacsa called the report “a biased, political indictment riddled with factual mistakes.” They said that the report was aimed at making Hungary scrap its child protection law. The document “is in conflict with the Council’s goals and hinders dialogue based on mutual respect,” they added.

Featured photo via Flickr/Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly

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