Orbán Sends Letter to EPP’s ‘Three Wise Men’ Evaluation Committee
Fanni Kaszás 2019.06.13.
According to Népszava, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán sent a letter to the three-member committee, named the ‘three wise men,’ who are currently evaluating whether the Hungarian government party meets the democratic values of the EPP. According to the paper, Orbán sent the letter to Wolfgang Schüssel, ex-Austrian Chancellor and member of the committee, in which he replied to the question as to why the Hungarian government is campaigning against the EU and the EPP. The Prime Minister said that they want an open dialogue on critical issues.
In the letter acquired by Népszava, the Prime Minister states that it is “nonsense that Fidesz is not committed to European values.” He also writes, among other things, that the Hungarian legislation is in full compliance with EU law and that is why the European Commission has not initiated proceedings.
Orbán also claims that the independence of the Hungarian courts is guaranteed in the constitution; however, he did not mention the withdrawal of the law on administrative courts.
According to the Prime Minister, there is no need to worry about the situation of freedom of expression and opinion. The PM mentions the Central European Press and Media Foundation (KESMA), which controls over hundreds of right-wing media outlets, but he still says that the key media outlets, such as commercial television channel RTL Klub and ATV, economic-political weekly HVG, tabloid Blikk, and leftist daily Népszava are critical of the government.
The Prime Minister also claimed that there is no need to be ashamed of the corruption index, as in Hungary, 47% of OLAF’s investigations inflict prosecution, while the European average is only 42%.
He also mentions that NGOs are not suppressed in the country, as 60,000 of these organizations operate in Hungary. Considering that CEU announced last year that it would relocate all its US-accredited courses to Vienna for the start of the 2019/2020 academic year, Orbán wrote that CEU voluntarily left for Vienna, no one was pushing them, especially not the government.
Back in March, following a joint proposal from the European People’s Party (EPP) Presidency and Fidesz, the Political Assembly of the EPP voted to suspend the party. A three-member evaluation committee was also appointed to assess the implementation of the conditions agreed upon in the proposal. Aside from the fulfilment of Manfred Weber’s previous three-point ultimatum, the committee will also look into Hungary’s respect for the rule of law and Fidesz’s regard for EPP values.
The evaluation committee, the so-called ‘three wise men,’ is chaired by former Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy (Belgium) and its members will include former European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering (Germany), and former Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel (Austria). They are now preparing a report on which the long-term future of the EPP and that of the relationship between the EPP and Fidesz will be decided.