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Hungary’s leader rejects criticism in European Union parliament debate

14 September 2018

Accused of infringing on the fundamental values of the EU and referred to in this connection by a procedure unique to the european Parliament, the Hungarian Prime minister-national conservative Viktor Orban, member of the EPP group, has denounced Tuesday in Strasbourg, any "blackmail" aimed at making it deviate from its uncompromising position towards migrants.

The vote was the first time that the EU Parliament considered launching the Article 7 sanctions process against a member state.

Human rights NGOs enthusiastically welcomed the European Parliament's approval to start punitive Article 7 proceedings against Hungary on Wednesday (12 September), after a vote that revealed deep divisions inside the biggest political family, the European People's Party.

If the resolution is adopted, it will be the first time that the European Parliament takes the initiative for such a procedure, though it has backed an Article 7 action taken against Poland, triggered in December 2017 by the European Commission.

But it was still unclear whether the 751-strong European Parliament would be able to muster the two-thirds majority needed to pass the censure motion, which accuses Hungary of breaching core EU values.

MEP Angel Dzhambazki, who sided with Orban, wrote on Facebook condemning the motion and adding that, "today the European Union went in the direction of its Soviet counterpart".

For years, Orban has successfully deflected much of the worldwide condemnation about Hungary's electoral system, media freedoms, independence of the judiciary, mistreatment of asylum-seekers and refugees and limitations on the functioning of non-governmental organizations, but criticism has been growing even within the European People's Party, to which his Fidesz party belongs.

"Hungary and the Hungarian people are being condemned because they proved that migration can be stopped and there is no need for migration", Szajer said. "Do you think you know better what the Hungarian people want", Orban said, explaining that Hungarian decisions are taken by voters in the legislative elections. "We should not let Europe slide back to the past".

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. He has also expressed his desire to remain within the EPP, which he said was "deeply divided" on the issue of migration.

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.

But Italy's anti-immigration Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said his League party's six European Union lawmakers would support Orban.

French President Emmanuel Macron, an outspoken defender of European Union values, has urged the EPP to clarify its stance, saying it could not back both Merkel and Orban at the same time.

"We believe that there can be no compromises on the rule of law and democracy", Kurz told ORF television.

The EPP's leader Manfred Weber, who announced his bid to run as the group's candidate to be the next European Commission president, is in favour of keeping Fidesz within the fold.

Hungary’s leader rejects criticism in European Union parliament debate