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Judit Varga, the justice minister, gave an outline of priorities for Hungary’s upcoming Council of Europe (CoE) presidency starting in May to the council’s Secretary-General Marija Pejčinović Burić at their meeting in Strasbourg on Wednesday.

“Hungary has been, for centuries, a devoted participant and shaper in the development of law in Europe. While appreciating the work of the Council of Europe in maintaining the dialogue on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, respecting the cultural, legal and historical traditions of each nation remains also very important, and this is going to be the most significant principle of the Hungarian Presidency as well,” Varga said on Facebook after the meeting.

The minister also presented to the commissioner the programmes planned by the justice ministry for Hungary’s CoE presidency.

“The meeting also provided an opportunity to represent Hungarian interests and to discuss current issues in the Council of Europe,” Varga said.

Respecting national traditions important for Hungary’s CoE presidency

A key principle of Hungary’s six-month Council of Europe (CoE) presidency starting in May will be respect for national traditions, Varga said later on Wednesday after talks with senior CoE officials.

In addition to maintaining dialogue on human rights, democracy and rule of law which constitute the CoE’s basic activities, the programme for the Hungarian presidency will also include protecting national minorities and families, promoting dialogue between religions, and addressing the challenges of artificial intelligence, cybercrime and environmental protection, Varga told MTI over the phone from Strasbourg.

“The Hungarian presidency will offer an opportunity for representing European values that are important to Hungarians, including the protection of national minorities,” she said.

Addressing a CoE Committee of Ministers meeting, Varga confirmed Hungary’s dedication to the CoE’s values, highlighting the importance of respecting national legal traditions and historical roots. The minister also said that she had talked about the Hungary Helps programme set up to help persecuted Christian communities, noting that even Hungary’s constitution guaranteed the protection of Christian roots and European culture based on Christianity.

Varga said Hungary supported the rule of law and values represented by the CoE, as demonstrated by placing a copy of the historic Golden Bull of 1222, outlining constitutional limits on the power of monarchs, in the CoE headquarters. The Golden Bull is proof that respect for statehood and rule of law started for Hungary several hundred years ago and the country has been a dedicated participant and shaping force of European development for centuries, she added.

CoE Commissioner Calls on Hungary to 'Restore' Press Freedom
CoE Commissioner Calls on Hungary to 'Restore' Press Freedom

Dunja Mijatovic, human rights commissioner of the Council of Europe, said in a memorandum on Tuesday that it was “high time for Hungary to restore journalistic and media freedoms”. In reaction, representatives of the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office, the justice ministry, and media authority NMHH called the memorandum “biased,” based on “assumption rather than facts.” […]Continue reading

Presenting the Hungarian government’s position, she said the memorandum published by Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic on Tuesday, calling on Hungary to restore the freedom of the press, demonstrated bias and a lack of factual knowledge.

Varga said that during a meeting with the head of the European Court of Human Rights, she presented Hungary’s efforts to reduce the burden on the court.

The number of Hungarian cases in front of the ECHR is not especially high, which shows the efficiency of Hungary’s judiciary, she added.

The minister said Hungary considered it important to reduce the number of cases and that the court’s proceedings should be limited to cases regulated by the European Convention on Human Rights, free of any bias. Hungary will obey all ECHR rulings, she added.

“The six-month Hungarian presidency and its work schedule have been positively received by the 47-member organisation which demonstrates that Europe’s future rests on real performance and not on pseudo-debates,” Varga said.

featured image: Judit Varga (l) with Marija Pejčinović Burić; via Facebook

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