Sargentini report: NGOs target MEPs

International civil groups have called on MEPs to vote for launching the EU’s Article 7 procedure against Hungary later this month. A Hungarian pro-government think tank has also decided to further inform the MEPs.

The European Parliament is expected to vote on a report criticising the state of the rule of law in Hungary prepared by its civil liberties committee (LIBE) next Wednesday. The report, authored by Green MEP Judith Sargentini, says there is a “clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values of the European Union”, and calls for launching the Article 7 procedure, which suspends a member state’s voting rights.

In an open letter to MEPs, civil groups including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Civil Society Europe, the European Policy Institute of the Open Society Foundations, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and Climate Action Europe voiced their concerns over what they believe is Hungary’s straying from the common path of the European Union “built on respect by all member states for human rights, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms”.

They said the current Hungarian government “has stepped off this common path, curbing media freedom, freedom of association and undermining the independence of its courts”.

“If unchecked, the deterioration of respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law in Hungary will continue and spread further across Europe,” they wrote. “European leaders have accommodated, coaxed and warned the government of Hungary. Those efforts have proven futile. In fact, the lack of clear action has emboldened Hungary’s increasingly autocratic leadership,” they said.

Experts say next week’s vote is likely to be close, as the LIBE report’s approval will require a 2/3rds majority and an absolute majority among all MEPs. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will participate in the debate on the report on Sept. 11.

Ruling Fidesz said in response that US financier George “Soros’s allies attacked Hungary again, wanting revenge on Hungarians”.  Hungary has halted the flow of migrants at its borders and demonstrated that migration is not an inevitable phenomenon that has to be accepted, Balazs Hidveghi, the party’s communication chief, told public media on Tuesday. The NGOs signing the letter “want to flood Europe with migrants” and are on “Soros’s payroll”, he said.

Balazs Orban, state secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office, told a press conference that the report is “a patchwork resulting from a show trial motivated by political reasons.” It is part of the European parliamentary election campaign, which will be defined by the parties’ approach to migration, with “the future of Europe at stake”, he said.

The state secretary said that the government had recently prolonged the state of emergency due to mass migration which was first introduced in September 2015. There are continued attempts to enter the country illegally, the police regularly identify illegal immigrants, and thousands of migrants have been stranded on the “Balkan route”, waiting to enter the European Union, he insisted.

Hungarian think tank to inform the MEPs

The Center for Fundamental Rights (Alapjogokert Kozpont) will list the false claims of the Sargentini report and share it with every MEP before the vote, the think tank’s strategic director, Istvan Kovacs told M1 on Tuesday. He stressed that the report reflects the Europe of 2014, when there had been no migration crisis. Kovacs added that the report contains all elements of the “smear campaign” against Hungary since 2011, despite the fact that the government has rebutted many of those claims.

Source: MTI/Hungary Journal
Photo: MTI

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