Budapest, March 24 (MTI) – The leftist opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) said the government’s planned anti-terrorism measures announced on Thursday were “another step toward dismantling civil rights” in Hungary, while the opposition Socialist Party said it was open to discussing any proposal that is meant to keep people safe.
Interior Minister Sándor Pintér announced earlier in the day that the government will submit to parliament a proposal on a package of anti-terrorism measures, including amendments to the constitution and related cardinal laws, in light of the increased threat of terrorism throughout Europe.
DK spokesman Zsolt Gréczy told a press conference that his party “values greatly” the safety of the people, but Pintér’s announcement was itself a “terrorist attack” against Hungarians.
Gréczy said Orbán was trying to intimidate Hungarians by “desecrating” the victims of the Brussels attacks. He said that “even without seeing the proposal”, any law that would allow the government to inspect private bank accounts or letters was unacceptable. Gréczy said the laws currently in place are enough for the government to fight terrorism. “There is no need to threaten ten million Hungarians with government spying,” he said.
The Socialists said they were willing to discuss the bill with the other parliamentary parties on the condition that all parliamentary groups would receive a written copy of the proposals before talks begin. Zsolt Molnár, the head of parliament’s national security committee, and lawmaker Tamás Harangozó said in a statement that their party was willing to support any measure that increases the safety of the Hungarian people but would not approve any law that would “unnecessarily restrict” civil rights.
The Liberal Party said that effective regulations were sufficient to prevent a possible terrorist attack. In a statement, the Liberals also said that constitutional guarantees should ensure that “the government cannot use the planned measures for purposes different from their original purpose”. They also insisted that the opposition cannot support such measures without those guarantees, “merely trusting the goodwill of the government”. The Liberals reject any proposal aimed at “ensuring uncontrollable, unrestricted power” to the government, they added.
The Dialogue for Hungary (PM) party said that the planned measures were in fact “a package of autocracy topped with a sauce of (government) propaganda”. PM spokesman Bence Tordai said that the government was using the threat of terrorism as an excuse to complete total control over society “similarly to Putin’s Russia or Erdogan’s Turkey”.
The opposition Jobbik party said it would support the package “on condition that it really is aimed at prevention”. Jobbik spokesman Ádám Mirkóczki said at a press conference on another subject that if in fact the government’s goal was to rule by way of decrees, his party would “not assist”. Mirkóczki added, however, that Jobbik supports that the constitution should be amended in light of the terrorist threat, and that some laws should be made more stringent.