Dutch Green MEP Judith Sargentini, author of a report critical of the state of the rule of law in Hungary approved by the European Parliament last year, addressed a demonstration against the Hungarian government’s policies organised by the Hungarian opposition in Brussels on Tuesday.
In her speech at the protest organised by the Radical European Democrats (RED) movement, Sargentini stressed the importance of a free media and being critical of governments in a democracy.
She said it was dangerous to conflate a government or a political party with the state or its citizens, adding that this is what was happening in the case of debates on the situation in Hungary.
She also said it was important for trade unions, civil groups and opposition parties to come together.
As regards her report, Sargentini said it focused on a number of key topics about civil rights in Hungary and how the Hungarian government was undermining those rights. The MEP said all European citizens have equal rights.
Sargentini said she was expressing solidarity with Hungarians because they are “first class European citizens”.
The politician said the time for “quiet diplomacy” was over and it was time to act, lest the situation worsens.
Socialist Party MEP István Ujhelyi said being Hungarian was equally important to remaining European. “Let’s keep Hungary in Europe,” he said. “But we have to choose: Europe or Orbanistan.”
Democratic Coalition MEP Csaba Molnár said Hungary was “revolting” because [Prime Minister] Viktor Orbán had “ruined” the shared European ideal in the EU over the past few years. He said that by not expelling ruling Fidesz from the ranks of the European People’s Party, EPP group leader Manfred Weber was “protecting a deceitful, corrupt regime that is rotten to the core”.
Párbeszéd MEP Benedek Jávor’s speech was read out by his colleague Roland Papp. He said “Orbán’s Hungary” was becoming a country of public workers and overworked public sector workers.
“The majority of Hungarians do not want a country like the one being built by Orbán today,” he insisted.
János Kendernay of LMP said the “Orbán regime” was serving big capital over the people. He said Hungary’s workforce would eventually disappear, because “anyone who can is leaving”.
Barnabás Mester, one of the founders of the RED movement, pointed out the number of Hungarian participants at anti-government protests abroad, saying that those people had left Hungary because of the government’s policies.
Balázs Nemeth of the Momentum Movement said 2019 would be the “year of resistance” and that Hungarians would have to be politically active “until Hungary has a democratic government again”.
Featured image: MTI/AP