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PMO Chief: Epidemic Response Law Fulfils Criteria of Rule of Law

MTI-Hungary Today 2020.04.04.

Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, Gergely Gulyás said about the withdrawal of part of a bill that would have stripped some powers from local mayors in a state of emergency that the reasoning behind the government’s decision was that it aimed to ensure the broadest possible national unity and political alignment concerning the response to the epidemic without any political debates.

As regards other legislation in connection with the response to the virus, the PMO chief said it affected many areas, adding, however that the government will submit amendments according to the ordinary legislative rules. He said that

Allegations that the government would want to shut down parliament are false; on the contrary, it wants parliament to operate in an orderly manner and is therefore asking every lawmaker to also perform their duties in an as orderly fashion as possible under the current circumstances.

Gulyás was also asked about “the new series of attacks coming from the EU” against the Hungarian government, the “cross-fire” it faced over its coronavirus protection measures and pledges to invoke the EU’s Article 7 procedure over the state of the rule of law in the country. He said the prime minister had given an appropriate response to these in saying that “we are preoccupied with our own protection efforts while Brussels is preoccupied with us.”

The Hungarian epidemic response law fulfils the criteria of the rule of law in every aspect.

Gulyás said. He added that European press reports contained “countless lies” in connection with the law to the extreme that “went far beyond” any previous instances.

At the same time, he said, the government considered it “unusual that they’re still preoccupied with us” at a time when the entire continent is facing serious challenges. Hungary is prepared to deal with any disputes once the epidemic subsides, he said, adding that “until then the government will not give in to any provocation by the EU or the EPP”. He added that they had got used to Hungary getting “berated and smeared” over the past several years.

The minister also said the opposition parties had declared their support for the majority of the government’s epidemic response measures and had only refused to vote for the related law because it did not set a time limit for the state of emergency.
The PM’s Office chief also lambasted what he called a “witch hunt” against Hungary over the government’s epidemic response law. He said that though the government had “got used to this over the past several years”, it still considered the current situation “infinitely unethical and incorrect” because the whole of Europe and the EU itself “should be concentrating on defending against the epidemic instead of focusing on certain member states”.
Gulyás also talked about the new regulations regarding fake news, he said the government remained firmly committed to press freedom and that recent changes to the penal code did not apply to criticisms of the government.
Commenting on the weakening of the national currency to record low levels of 360-370 against the euro, Gulyás said it was because the forint had come under “a strong speculative attack,” which the National Bank of Hungary had “handled excellently.”

Gulyás added that “the Hungarian economy is currently in a state that does not warrant the current exchange rate,” projecting the rate to move back to previous levels.

featured photo: Gergely Botár/MTI/kormany.hu