‘Petty revenge’: Hungary blasts MEPs for supporting punitive measures against Budapest

Clay Curtis
September 14, 2018

Brussels, September 12, 2018-The Committee to Protect Journalists today welcomed the vote by members of the European Parliament in favor of a resolution against Hungary for breaching EU values, and called on the bloc to keep up pressure on Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's government.

The lawmakers voted 448-197 in favour of a report recommending the launch of a so-called Article 7 procedure, which could lead to the suspension of Hungary's European Union voting rights.

Delivering more than the two-thirds majority required as many of Orban's allies in the conservative party deserted him, the vote, however, has little chance of ending up with the ultimate penalty of Hungary being suspended from voting in the EU. The European Commission launched Article 7 proceedings against Poland past year that have yet to reach the European Parliament.

It is the first time in EU history that the European Parliament has initiated and approved such a motion, which needed a two-thirds majority to pass and was approved by 69.4% of MEPs.

A majority of the issues addressed in the report do not fall under European Union jurisdiction, 13 of the 69 critical remarks have already been settled, and there are ongoing infringement procedures regarding many others, he said.

Orban has faced global condemnation over Hungary's electoral system, violations of press freedoms, undermining the judiciary, Islamophobia and the mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees, and limits on the functioning of non-governmental organisations.

Before the vote, EPP leader Manfred Weber, who has announced his candidacy for the Commission's top job and has been a staunch defender of Orban until now, indicated that his patience for his Hungarian party colleagues was coming to an end.

He has also led opposition to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others who want Europe to take in more Muslim refugees.

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Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilder on social media called the results a "bloody shame" and Orban "a hero who deserves the Nobel Prize".

Aside from its anti-immigrant stance, Orban's government is also accused of silencing independent media and academia, removing independent judges, cracking down on organisations helping homeless people, migrants or disadvantaged groups, such as Roma, and condoning government corruption.

In July, the EU executive body warned it could take Budapest to the European Court of Justice over laws under which anyone assisting an undocumented migrant could be jailed for a year. The group of leftists and greens in the assembly said "Orban's authoritarian moves must be curbed".

But Italy's anti-immigration Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said his League party's six European Union lawmakers would support Oran in the Wednesday vote.

Also on Tuesday night Orban also faced the prospect of his party being kicked out of the right-wing party group in the European parliament.

"We will not accept compromises on the core of our democratic values and principles".

"We are not going to leave the EPP", Orban said.

However, a unanimous vote is required to suspend Hungary's voting rights and launch sanctions - a move that is likely to be blocked by Poland.

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