The draft report on Hungary by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) “is a bunch of patent lies which disregards facts and reality”, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said at a meeting of the committee on Thursday.
He said the draft opinion would pass as a document in a show trial. Hungary is being judged because it “stands in the way of extremist pro-migration plans”, he added.
The draft presented by Green MEP Judith Sargentini states that Hungary risks violating European Union values, raising justification for launching an Article 7 procedure against it.
Judith Sargentini, the Green Party’s rapporteur, said the committee had examined not only how EU legislation is implemented in Hungary but also how the fundamental rights of Hungarians are enforced and how the state treats its citizens. In light of its findings, she said the EU must act. She said the views of the Council of Europe, the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the judgments of international courts had been taken into consideration and underlined the committee’s concerns.
“Shadow rapporteur” Roberta Metsola of the EPP addressed the issue of Hungary’s law on foreign-supported NGOs, saying it had had a huge impact on their operations and violated EU values.
Social Democrat Josef Weidenholzer said the issue of the rule of law in Hungary had long been on the agenda and now was the time to act. He said liberal democracy was in grave danger, adding that without liberal principles, democracy was an empty vessel.
Marek Jurek, a representative of the European Conservatives and Reformists, said Hungary’s government was pillorised for issues which other EU member states had escaped censure. He cited minority rights, saying that Hungary had done more to improve the situation of the Roma than many other European countries.
Istvan Ujhelyi, an MEP for the opposition Socialists, called it regrettable that “the Fidesz government representing Hungary has to give an explanation over and over again for its policies that dismantle democracy and the rule of law and go against common European undertakings.”
According to Jobbik MEP Zoltan Balczo, the report contains some false accusations, based on the “usual extreme liberal standpoint”, but there are valid concerns as well. He added that Szijjarto didn’t answer the concerns of lack of free press, and it’s indeed the government’s propaganda that contributed to its victory.
The debate between the Hungarian government and LIBE is expected to continue into the future, Peter Szijjarto told a press conference after the debate on the draft report. He insisted that LIBE had “long been waging a show trial against Hungary”. He said the government has compiled a factual refutation of the allegations contained in the draft report, and has sent it to every MEP.
Szijjarto added that the government would not allow the implementation of the “Soros plan”. “This is obviously inconvenient for some members of the committee,” he said.
LIBE wants to push through a mandatory migrant quota mechanism, Szijjarto said, adding that the committee had just recently approved a proposal that would put Hungary’s strict border protection measures at risk.
“Hungarians have clearly stated their position in this regard and we will not allow anyone to question the public’s will,” he said.
MEPs may submit amendments to the draft by mid-May, and the EP committees on constitutional affairs, culture and education, budget control and women’s rights will attach their opinion.
The report is expected to be put to the vote in June and will go before an EP plenary in the autumn. It is at this point that Article 7 may be launched against Hungary for violating the rule of law.