Tamás Deutsch, an MEP of ruling Fidesz, has rejected what he called “false allegations” in a motion by members of the European People’s Party (EPP) for a vote on his expulsion from the conservative party family’s European Parliamentary group, saying that the motion was “unjustified, unfounded and irresponsible”.
In a letter to members of the EPP group, Deutsch said he immediately cleared up allegations made in the Hungarian media that he had compared EPP group leader Manfred Weber to the Gestapo and Hungary’s communist-era secret police in a “misinterpreted” interview, in a letter he sent to Weber the following day.
Deutsch said he had apologised to Weber in the letter, emphasising that he had no intention of insulting the group leader. The MEP said a phone call he later had with Weber convinced him that Weber had taken note of the apology.
Deutsch said certain EPP MEPs had again called for Fidesz’s immediate expulsion from the conservative grouping, citing press reports on the interview, while Austrian MEP Othmar Karas called on him to apologise or step down. Deutsch said that despite his apology to Weber, Karas had started collecting signatures for his expulsion from the parliamentary group.
The remarks made in the interview were not aimed at anyone in particular, but were rather meant to criticise a procedure that “has no guarantee of the rule of law and does not serve legal certainty”, Deutsch said.
“I have pointed out that I do not agree with the rule of law conditionality, which is reminiscent of a time when, on the basis of arbitrary political decisions, anyone could be punished at any time, for any reason,” he said.
The MEP underlined that it was not those arguing for the rule of law mechanism or the principle itself that he considered “reminiscent of political arbitrariness”, but rather the specific mechanism referenced in the agreement between the EP and the European Council.
Deutsch said he was “sad” to see what he called an increasingly common practice within the EPP of certain members resorting to threats of expulsion against those they disagree with instead of engaging in political debates.
He noted that in the spring, 15 national delegations within the EPP demanded Fidesz’s expulsion from the parliamentary group “on the basis of absurd rumors circulating about Hungarian epidemiological measures” that later turned out to be false.
“Nevertheless, neither an apology nor the withdrawal of the expulsion request was granted,” he added.
Deutsch said it was also a “double-standard procedure” that he, as a Fidesz politician, was being threatened with expulsion over his criticism of a specific measure, while “the grossest personal insults and slanders against Fidesz and its leaders from within the EPP go unpunished.”
Deutsch said the threat to expel him from the EPP group also gave the impression that the EPP group wanted to put pressure on the Hungarian government for its intention to veto the EU’s next multiannual budget and Next Generation EU recovery package.