Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

European Union punishes Hungary with unprecedented action

Orban EU Parliament to Debate Possible Sanctions Against Hungary
Faye Gross | 14 September, 2018, 18:29

By 448-197, MEPs backed triggering the so-called Article 7 procedure in an unprecedented move which could lead to the suspension of Hungary's European Union voting rights.

While voices were heard criticizing Orban in Strasbourg Tuesday, his Fidezs party is a member of the European People's Party (EPP) political group, the largest party in the European Parliament.

Orban has for years deflected much of the global condemnation of Hungary's electoral system, media freedoms, independence of the judiciary, mistreatment of asylum-seekers and refugees and limits on the functioning of non-governmental organizations.

Asked about his expectations about the result of Wednesday's vote on the report, Orban said he was sure it would gather the two-thirds support needed for approval and then attempts would be made to expel Fidesz from the EPP.

The experts called on Hungary to "refrain from engaging in practices that are threatening fundamental civic freedoms, in particular, the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, association, as well as the principle of non-refoulement and the ban on incitement to hatred and discrimination", and encourages European institutions to continue applying pressure on the Hungarian government.

The vast majority of MEPs in Strasbourg on Wednesday voted to pursue disciplinary action against the Hungarian government over alleged breaches of the EU's core values.

"I reject that the European Parliament's forces supporting immigration and migrants threaten, blackmail and with untrue accusations defame Hungary and the Hungarian people", he said during a feisty speech.

Orban said in a video posted on Facebook that European Union parliamentarians who support migration "are preparing for revenge against Hungary, because Hungarians have decided they will not become an immigrant country".

"You say no more than the Hungarian people cannot decide for themselves what is in their own interest".

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"You want to exclude a people from European decisions to silence those who do not agree with you", said Orban, "You are condemning us because our homeland has not agreed to become a country of immigration, but we will not give in to blackmail, Hungary will defend its rights, including against you if necessary".

"If need be, we will stand up to you", said Orban, whose right-wing Fidesz party was re-elected with a landslide majority last April.

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.

Members of the European Union parliament have voted to begin a punitive procedure against Hungary for persistently flouting democratic rules.

The European Parliament is expected to vote on a sanctions procedure that would suspend Hungary's right to vote in all European Institutional bodies, a potential move that caused Orban to lash out at the lawmakers.

The vote, however, has little chance of ending up with the ultimate penalty of Hungary being suspended from voting in the EU.

Orban has said the mostly Muslim refugees pose an existential threat to Europe's Christian civilization.

All the applause for the Hungarian leader on Tuesday came from the far right of the chamber, notably among supporters of France's Marine Le Pen and the UK Independence Party.

"Orban is a hero", he said. "He protects his citizens against terror and defends the identity of his country", he said.

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