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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.