European lawmakers of ruling Fidesz praised while opposition MEPs slammed Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s speech at Tuesday’s EP debate on the Sargentini report, which proposes launching an Article 7 procedure against Hungary, which could ultimately strip the country from its voting rights.
Addressing the debate ahead of the Wednesday vote, Orbán said that Hungary is being condemned by the European Parliament because its people decided not to become a country of immigrants.
Fidesz MEP József Szájer condemned the report as a “revenge” on the Hungarian people, who oppose migration, and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who “built the border fence that halted the influx of migrants”.
The claim that the rule of law is in danger in Hungary is a “lie”, Szájer said.
It is rather endangered by critics of the government, including EP rapporteur Judith Sargentini and the EP’s civil liberties committee which accepted the document, he said.
The report also addresses issues which do not fall under the jurisdiction of EU treaties, Szájer said.
Lívia Járóka, also an MEP of ruling Fidesz, said that the government should be praised rather than condemned for its approach to the Roma community. Once accepted, the report would undermine the EP’s credibility. Pointing to some factual errors in the document, she said that the series of attacks on people of Roma origin that claimed six lives had been committed before Orban came to power, and the perpetrators had been sentenced to prison during Orbán’s term in office. Further, the far-right Magyar Gárda had been banned just after the Orbán government took office, she said.
Socialist MEP István Újhelyi accused Orbán of “lying” to defend his “sinful regime” from the law and rules of the European Union.
Orbán lied both to the EP and Hungarian citizens and used the union’s funding to build an empire, he said. “His greatest sin,” however, is sowing division among Hungarians, Újhelyi said, adding that he will vote in favour of the report.
Péter Niedermüeller, an MEP of leftist opposition Democratic Coalition (DK), said that Orbán had spoken of the EP punishing and pillorying Hungary while the Sargentini report merely aims to “bring Hungary back into the European family.” Earlier today, DK deputy head László Varjú said that DK would vote in favour of the report.
Conservative opposition Jobbik’s MEP, Zoltán Balczó, rejected “accusations of racism and anti-Semitism” in the report.
Certain charges, however, such as of curbing the freedom of the press, were justified, he said. Balczó said he would abstain at the vote.
Featured image: MTI