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The Hungarian government’s political opponents “have completely distorted” the idea of the rule of law, Justice Minister Judit Varga said in an interview to business weekly Figyelő, adding that this was evidenced by the debate around the ongoing Article 7 procedure against Hungary.

The issue of the rule of law can become problematic when it is “used as a weapon against member states that break with the mainstream but still represent a legitimate political stance”, Varga said. “This operation has been ongoing against Hungary for years.”

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“Seeing the course of events in the EU, it can be summed up by saying that the rule of law isn’t working in countries with anti-immigration governments, but it’s prospering in countries that support immigration,” the minister argued.

Varga firmly rejected the idea of tying receipt of EU funds to compliance with standards regarding the rule of law, arguing that all member states were considered equal under the bloc’s basic treaty.

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Concerning the incoming European Commission, Varga said she saw promising signs that the new executive body would have a different mentality than that of its predecessor. The new EC president looks set to make an effort to understand central Europe instead of offending it, the minister said.

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As regards the working group that has been set up to monitor the influence of tech giants, Varga said the group has been tasked with looking into the companies’ “censorship practices”.

“This is about nothing more than protecting Hungarian users’ freedom of expression,” Varga said.

The working group’s job will be limited to analysing the legal environment in which the tech companies operate, she said, emphasising that the group would not be drafting any regulations. “Because we don’t know where our data goes or on what basis they restrict citizens’ opinions,” the minister argued.

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Asked about an ongoing dispute concerning judicial reforms between the National Office of the Judiciary (OBH) and the National Judicial Council, the body tasked with overseeing its work, Varga said that as justice minister, she could not comment on it, adding, at the same time, that she hoped the two bodies would soon settle their differences.

Featured photo by Gergely Botár/kormany.hu

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