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Justice minister: Rule of Law Must Not Be Used for ‘Political Blackmail’

MTI-Hungary Today 2020.09.21.

The rule of law “must not be used as a tool for political blackmail”, Justice Minister Judit Varga said on Monday commenting on planned rule of law reports on European Union member states.

Completing such annual reports had been proposed by Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, before her election.

“The rule of law is a priority in Europe but when it is deployed on the level of political statements, it could easily turn into a rule of blackmail,” Varga told public Kossuth Radio on Monday. The rule of law has no exact concept, but it is the result of developments over history, and can only be assessed through a dialogue between member states that mutually respect each other, she said.

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Hungary fully agrees that the rule of law is a priority but when it is being used as a tool for blackmail for various political purposes, then the rule of law ends, she added. If financial sanctions are introduced without specifying what standards must be met, then the rule of law comes to an end, she added.

Hungary expects that the sources of the reports promised by Von der Leyen to be released later this month will have to be handled with criticism, she added.

Experience from recent years showed that “national governments’ opinions are not given as much focus as pseudo-evidence constructed from cross-references by various NGOs,” she said.

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Varga said it would be “politically incomprehensible” for the reports to have consequences because member states had not given such powers to the EC when they joined the European Union.

Featured photo illustration by Zsolt Szigetváry/MTI