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Orbán Warns Finnish PM: Rule of Law Issue Not Legal One but Matter of Honour

MTI-Hungary Today 2019.10.01.

In Hungary, the issue of the state of the rule of law was not a legal one, but rather one of honour, PM Viktor Orbán said on Monday at a joint press conference held with Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne.

Orbán said in response to a question about the principle of the rule of law, the prime minister said Hungarians had not been as “lucky” as the Finns “because after the second world war, we were invaded and there was a dictatorship here for more than forty years”.

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He said that in Hungary, the issue of the state of the rule of law was not a legal one, but rather one of honour.

“Whenever someone questions us or the state of the rule of law in Hungary, they’re stepping on our honour and I would advise them to think this over carefully,” Orbán said. International relations are not built on the idea that “one country can insult the other”, but rather on mutual respect, Orbán added.

I don’t recommend getting to the point in Europe where a prime minister or one of their officials visits another country in the bloc to give them an ear-bashing on the issue of the rule of law, because that’ll lead to a lot of things, but not European unity”

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Orbán said democracy, press freedom and constitutionality were not a “political game” in central Europe, but rather “a matter of honour”.

“We take it seriously and we would like others to take it seriously as well and not use it as a political weapon against Hungary,” the prime minister said.

But, of course, if necessary, we will fight, because one fights for their honour”

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Asked about the idea of tying receipt of EU funds to compliance with standards regarding the rule of law, Orbán said there was already a mechanism in the EU budget by which the European Commission can halt the transfer of funds to a country deemed to not be using them properly.

Now, Orbán said, there were proposals to create another mechanism. The prime minister said this required a “mature” proposal that answers the most important legal questions. He added, however, that he does not yet see such a proposal. Today, the matter of making the receipt of EU funds conditional on complying with the standards regarding the rule of law “is more of a political slogan” and not a written proposal, he said. Hungary does not see such a proposal as necessary, Orbán said, adding, at the same time, that he would consider any concrete proposals on the matter.

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Commenting on European issues, Orbán said they were in agreement that in the case of new European institutions currently being set up it was “necessary to focus more on what we agree on rather than what we disagree on”.

The new heads of European institutions currently entering office will be expected to manage a more successful five years than what is behind them, he said. The number of conflicts will hopefully be reduced, Orbán said, adding that he was hoping to develop deeper relations also with the Finnish prime minister.

Featured photo by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI