On the heels of an initiative for his explusion from the European People’s Party (EPP), Fidesz MEP Tamás Deutsch explains his stance in an open letter. According to Deutsch, he had clarified his remarks with faction leader Manfred Weber well before the signature drive kick-started. He also rejects “false allegations” of the motion that is “unjustified, unfounded, and irresponsible.”
As we previously reported, in response to Manfred Weber’s “if you have nothing to hide, you don’t have to be afraid [of the rule of law mechanism and checks],” Deutsch said “I well remember that the Gestapo and the ÁVO [ÁVO/ÁVH was the dreadful Communist secret police in Hungary, operating until 1956] had the same slogan.”
In the wake of conflicts about Viktor Orbán’s veto of the rule of law criteria and Fidesz’ suspension from the EPP, the comments triggered harsh reactions within the largest and most influential European party family. Soon after, certain EPP MEPs had again called for Fidesz’s immediate expulsion from the conservative grouping, while Austrian MEP Othmar Karas initiated a signature drive wanting either Deutsch’s apology or his expulsion.
In this latest letter, Deutsch claimed he immediately cleared up the allegations made in the Hungarian media in a “misinterpreted” interview, in a letter he sent to Weber the following day.
According to Deutsch, he apologised to Weber in the letter, emphasising that he had no intention of insulting the group leader. The MEP said a phone call he later had with Weber convinced him that Weber had taken note of the apology.
Deutsch said Karas had started collecting signatures despite his apology to Weber.
The remarks made in the interview were not aimed at anyone in particular, but were rather meant to criticize a procedure that “has no guarantee of the rule of law and does not serve legal certainty,” Deutsch said. “I have pointed out that I do not agree with the rule of law conditionality, which is reminiscent of a time when, on the basis of arbitrary political decisions, anyone could be punished at any time, for any reason,” he said.
The MEP underlined that it was not those arguing for the rule of law mechanism or the principle itself that he considered “reminiscent of political arbitrariness,” but rather the specific mechanism referenced in the agreement between the EP and the European Council.
Deutsch said he was “sad” to see what he called an increasingly common practice within the EPP of certain members resorting to threats of expulsion against those they disagree with instead of engaging in political debates.
He noted that in the spring, 15 national delegations within the EPP demanded Fidesz’s expulsion from the parliamentary group “on the basis of absurd rumors circulating about Hungarian epidemiological measures” that later turned out to be false. “Nevertheless, neither an apology nor the withdrawal of the expulsion request was granted,” he added.
Deutsch said it was also a “double-standard procedure” that he, as a Fidesz politician, was being threatened with expulsion over his criticism of a specific measure, while “the grossest personal insults and slanders against Fidesz and its leaders from within the EPP go unpunished.”
Deutsch said the threat to expel him from the EPP group also gave the impression that the EPP group wanted to put pressure on the Hungarian government for its intention to veto the EU’s next multiannual budget and Next Generation EU recovery package.
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