BRUSSELS (Sputnik) – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Tuesday addressed the European Parliament during its debate of a report which says that Budapest risked breaching core values of the European Union.
The draft report by Dutch Judith Sargentini, a member of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, recommends launching a disciplinary process against Budapest, known as Article 7, citing concerns related to the functioning of the constitutional system, the independence of the judiciary, corruption, the freedom of expression, migrants’ and ethnic minorities’ rights in Hungary. The EU parliament is set to vote on a draft motion on Wednesday.
Hungary Accused of ‘Witch Hunt’ Against Democratic Values
Sargentini launched Tuesday’s debate, calling on the EU member states to do more than just criticize the Hungarian government’s “anti-democratic” actions.
“The Hungarian government is on a witch-hunt against everything that belongs in a healthy democracy that respects rule of law. Time and time again, Orban has gone against the norms and values of the European Union. When a country is no longer prepared to uphold our common values, it’s a logical step to take away its voting rights,” Sargentini stressed.
Her views were supported by Frans Timmermans, the first vice-president of the European Commission, who accused the Hungarian prime minister of corruption, segregating Roma children, mistreating migrants and suppressing democracy.
Ryszard Antoni Legutko, a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group from Poland, on the other hand, defended Orban by saying that he and his party were “not elected by the Snow White and the seven dwarfs” but by the people of Hungary with a “landslide result.”
In April, Orban won a third term in office as the ruling coalition of the Fidesz party and the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) secured 133 out of the 199 seats in parliament.
Orban Calls Report ‘Slap in Face’ on Real Dialogue
The Hungarian prime minister responded by accusing the European Parliament of insulting “the honor of the Hungarian nation” and criticized the report for violating the EU treaties.
“What you do is give a slap in the face of Europe and of real dialogue… I reject the threats, blackmail and defamation that this report brings on the Hungarian people. Whatever your decision will be in this European parliament, we Hungarians will protect our borders and rights,” Orban said addressing the parliament.
The Hungarian prime minister noted that Budapest had sent a 108-page report documenting “all the errors” made in Sargentini report.
Action Against Hungary Aimed At Warning Other ‘Ill-Behaved’ EU Member States
Janice Atkinson, a member of the Europe of Nations and Freedom Group at the European Parliament from the United Kingdom, told Sputnik before the parliament debate that the attack on the Hungarian government was all about the fight for the future direction of the European Union ahead of the European Parliament elections, expected to be held in late May next year.
“The key to this report and this debate is the last chance of the Left and the Liberals to impose sanctions on Hungary before Europe goes to the polls. They hope that this witch hunt will damage Fidesz in the public’s eyes and warn other countries like Italy and Austria that their bad behavior will not be tolerated by Brussels,” Atkinson said.
EU Parliament to Vote on Resolution Sanctioning Hungary on September 12 – Source
According to Atkinson, it is “a battle of wills” between deeply religious and more secular EU member states as well as “a battle for democracy and populism,” with the Liberals and the Left scared of being “wiped out” by the voters in the upcoming elections.
Similarly, member of the European Parliament from the Netherlands Auke Zijlstra said in a commentary to Sputnik that the parliament’s action was “an incredible attack on Hungary as a sovereign country.”
“The justifications brought up by Mrs Sargentini for a conviction of Hungary are inadequate. I am Dutch like her and I am ashamed at the work she has done,” Zijlstra stressed.
Hungary has long been critical of the European Union’s open-door policy, initially introduced at the onset of the European migration crisis, and opposed the mandatory migrant relocation quotas. Budapest’s stance prompted the European Commission to launch its first infringement procedure against Hungary over the latter’s asylum legislation, which set up border fences and enhanced border control with neighboring Serbia, among other measures, in December 2015.