The issues of the rule of law and democracy have been put on the agenda of NATO once again. As the Hungarian government previously had international disputes regarding this matter, the Hungarian opposition and the American leadership headed by Joe Biden found a common standpoint.
The Hungarian government has had political opinions and ideas contrary to that of other Western states, with whom the country has strong relations.
The NATO Parliamentary Assembly decided to work on a centre to monitor its member countries’ compliance with the norms of the rule of law and democracy.
The set-up of this centre could open a new front for the dispute between the Hungarian government and its Western allies, writes index.hu.
In January, NATO Parliamentary President Gerard E. Connolly discussed with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg the possible creation of a Centre of Excellence for Democratic Resilience to assist member and partner nations to strengthen their democratic institutions. The centre will be an integrated part of the organisation; the elaboration of the concept has already started and will be done by a workgroup made up of representatives and experts.
Vice-president of the Parliamentary Assembly and member of the opposition Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) Attila Mesterházy wrote in an announcement:
“NATO is different from any security organisation in the sense that its creation and set-up is based on democratic values, the norms of the rule of law, and the respect of individual freedom rights.
In the past years, it has been made clear that this democratically functioning model is endangered both from the inside by the followers of illiberalism and from the outside by those (China and Russia) running an autocratic state.”
He added that many firmly believe that in order to protect NATO’s democratic functioning, not only words should be used but the organisation has to take action. Although he did not directly mention the Hungarian government, his announcement insinuates internal political action.
Moreover, as the role of Mesterházy will also involve preparing reports on the project, he will probably have some influence when it comes to the creation and the functions of the centre.
Furthermore, the significant support of the American presidency for the initiative could cause more headache to the Hungarian government. As I mentioned earlier, the idea came from the PA President Connolly who is also a democratic U.S. Congressional Representative. Back in 2019, for NATO‘s anniversary, he prepared a report on democratic values and the need to protect liberal democracies. He was appointed President of the NATO PA a year later, more or less at the same time as Joe Biden was elected President of the USA.
Naturally, Connolly’s opinion and visions are the same as what Joe Biden called his objective: creating unity among Western allies and thus among NATO member states. Already in his presidential campaign, Biden gave special importance to motivate member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to commit to democratic values. He reinforced his intentions earlier this year at the Munich Security Conference.