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EP Debate on Hungary: Same Accusations Back and Forth

Fanni Kaszás 2019.01.31.

The European Parliament has been debating over Hungary’s rule of law, fundamental rights and recent developments since last September. However, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán refused to participate in Wednesday’s plenary session.

The debate was initiated by the Green party following several recent events including the amendments to the Hungarian labor code, protests and the establishment of a system of independent administrative courts.

At the plenary session, European Commission Vice-President and Socialist Spitzenkandidat Frans Timmermans stated that the EC shares the Parliament’s concerns regarding the state of the rule of law, human rights and corruption in Hungary. He also accused EU governments of not listening to the European Parliament’s rule of law concerns.

Greens, Socialists and Liberals have expressed worry regarding the controversial overtime rule, the departure of the Central European University and the anti-government protests.

Green Party MEP Judith Sargentini, author of the report on Hungary which calls for the launch of an Article 7 procedure, claims that matters in Hungary have gotten worse since she published her report back in September.

The Hungarian government refused to participate in the debate. In an announcement on Tuesday, the government explained the move by saying the discussion “is not about Hungary or the rule of law in Hungary. Therefore, we will not dignify with our participation what is simply a pro-migration campaign event.” It insists the debate “serves the interests of George Soros and his pro-migration army.”

Although Prime Minister Orbán was not there, Hungarian MEPs did participate in the talks. During the EP plenary session, Jobbik MEP Zoltán Balczó said that “Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s regime is built on vassalage and corruption, gradually destroying the rule of law and releasing the genie of hatred from the bottle.” Socialist MEP Tibor Szanyi said the government has turned “the merriest barrack of the Soviet bloc into Europe’s new death row.”

Fidesz MEP Tamás Deutsch said that “the left-liberal majority in the body launched another attack against Hungary because of the campaign,” claiming that the EP is only acting against Hungary because of the government’s stance on migration.

However, during yesterday’s plenary session, Timmermans urged that “this is not about attacking a country because of its migration policy.”

via europarl.europa.eu, MTI, euronews, theguardian.com, politico.eu