In an unusual visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban launched a sharp attack on MEPs after they criticized the state of democracy in Hungary.
Orban strongly defended his government’s record as the Parliament presented a report calling Budapest to remove constitutional changes that some claim limit democracy and basic rights in Hungary.
He called the report ‘politically motivated’ and a ‘threat to Europe’.
‘The report is very unfair vis-a-vis Hungary, very unfair vis-a-vis the people of Hungary. You are applying double standards in this report, there’s no recognition of certain enormous efforts that have been deployed in Hungary in order to help modernize the country. This is simply forgotten, denied’, said Hungary’s prime Minister Viktor Orban.
‘The report that is tabled before you today is a serous danger, a threat for Europe (…) You’re suggesting here setting up a mechanism, an institution which is not anchored in the treaties and it would mean that member states of the union could find themselves under guardian ship in the future’, said Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
MEPs are due to vote over the report’s statements on Wednesday.
Orban’s government has carried out constitutional changes in recent months, including tough laws on education, homelessness and election funding.
If Hungary fails to comply, a formal investigation as to whether the EU’s fundamental rights have been breached will be launched.
‘No, Mr. ORBAN! It’s not against Hungary! You have not the right to say that these people here are fighting against the Hungarian interests! It’s the opposite, it’s true! It’s not your interest, but your interest is not the Hungarian interest! What we are defending here is Hungarian democracy and the interest of the Hungarian citizens’, said ALDE’s leader Guy Verhofstadt.
‘Let me assure this house that the Commission, as guardian of the treaties will continue to ensure that legislation and, in the Hungarian case, the fundamental law of the state is made compatible with EU law where necessary. We have showed all our diligence, as we did it last year, when we launched two infringement cases against Hungary’, said EC president Jose Manuel Barroso.
In 2011, Hungary adopted a new Constitution without much debated, raising concerns that the changes were contrary to EU norms and aimed at strengthening the Fidesz one-party rule.