In an interview with Spiegel, EC Vice President Vera Jourová said Viktor Orbán “is building a sick democracy.” In reaction, Hungary’s Justice Minister called for her resignation, while Viktor Orbán also announced in a letter to EC President von der Leyen that the Hungarian government is suspending any political contacts with the commissioner.
In an interview with German weekly Der Spiegel published on Friday, EC vice president, liberal Czech politician, Vera Jourová said that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was building a “sick democracy” and that most Hungarians are not in a position to form their own opinion based on the information they receive due to the state of the media in the country.
The Vice-President of the Commission expressed her opinion that Viktor Orbán would never be able to gain such great control over the media in a Western European country, emphasizing that although the “Prime Minister likes to say he is building an illiberal democracy, he instead, is building an ill [/sick] democracy.”
Jourová also said that “Hungarians will one day realize that their latest election was their last free one.”
Justice Minister calls the vice president’s remarks ‘an open attack’
“Jurová once again launched an open attack against Hungary,” commented the vice president’s critic Judit Varga on Facebook. Hungary’s Justice Minister stated that Jourová “offended all Hungarians, adding that “her statement goes against European values and the requirements of loyal cooperation.”
“Vice President Jourová must resign with immediate effect,” Varga noted. She thinks Jourová’s statements are incompatible with her position as vice president.
Orbán asks EC president for Jourová’s resignation
Later, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán wrote a letter to EC president Ursula von der Leyen, complaining about Jourová’s statements which “are offensive to Hungary and the Hungarian people” and asked for her resignation. Orbán also added that unless Jourová quits her post, Hungary would “suspend political contacts” with her.
“Ever since joining the European Union in 2004, Hungary has been a committed member; we have always tried to reach an agreement when there is a dispute, and most often we’ve succeeded. We value the work of the president [Ursula von der Leyen] as head of the commission.”
Orbán added that Jourová had used “insulting language,” publicly calling Hungary a “sick democracy,” thereby insulting Hungarian EU citizens by implying they were unable to form an independent opinion.
“Not only are these statements an attack on the democratically elected Hungarian government… they are offensive to Hungary and the Hungarian people, too,” the prime minister wrote. “The former is inappropriate, the latter is unacceptable,” he emphasized.
Orbán thinks that Jourová’s statements fall foul of the commission’s role declared in the Lisbon Treaty, which is to be neutral and objective.
“Those who breach the Treaty are incapable of acting as a protector of the rule of law and European values. The commissioner’s statements are incompatible with her position, and she must resign. Until that happens, the Hungarian government will suspend bilateral political ties with Vera Jourová.”
EC Commissioner Jourová: From ‘Friend’ to Foe
Interestingly enough, not long ago Vera Jourová was portrayed by the Hungarian government as a positive figure due to her alleged comments on the Orbán government’s coronavirus measures. During the spring when many spoke out against the Hungarian government and PM Orbán, claiming that the bill granted excessive power to the Orbán administration, the government circles cited the EC commissioner saying that the epidemic response law was in compliance with EU laws. However, later in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Vera Jourová corrected this statement and stressed that in Brussels they are vigilant about what Orbán and his government are doing in Hungary, concerning the rule of law.
Jourová has criticized the Hungarian government multiple times ever since. She is also the one responsible for reports assessing the state of the rule of law in each of the EU member states, and is now often described as a ‘Soros mercenary’ in the Fidesz media. Jourová has already called one of the questions about the newest national consultation survey about the EU “fake news,” and assured the former staff of Index of her solidarity.
Featured photo by Julien Warnand/EPA/MTI