Remarks from Jobbik MEP Márton Gyöngyösi, press release:
The European Parliament’s latest meeting witnessed something that rarely happens. Every party family, from the far-left to the far-right, came to a nearly complete consensus on an issue involving ideological matters. There was only one party sticking out like a sore thumb: Viktor Orbán’s now independent Fidesz, which has been using increasingly dictatorial measures in Hungary. The issue itself was an illegal surveillance scandal in which Orbán’s regime seems to be the most affected.
The scandal broke out in Hungary right before the onset of the summer slack season. As it was revealed, Viktor Orbán’s government had been tapping hundreds of phones, using the Israeli-made Pegasus spyware. The list of the victims was soon leaked, and it contained the names of opposition politicians, journalists as well as citizens who are not actively involved in politics. Presumably, the latter were surveyed on account of their pro-opposition views. While the affair is either ignored or misinterpreted by the long Fidesz-occupied and micromanaged public media and its attached propaganda outlets, the government’s politicians keep parroting that no unlawful activity took place at all.
However, the only fragment of truth in their statements is that each dictatorship lays down its own laws to fall back on when it comes to explaining their violations. Of course, I am not naive.
I am fully aware that every country, including the democratic states, conducts secret surveillance activities and taps the phones of certain individuals to control terrorist and criminal groups and to protect our society and security.
Nevertheless, considering the fact that it means an interference with the private sphere of citizens, such acts are subject to very serious conditions in the law of every democratic country. What does all this mean in practice? It means that all secret surveillance activities must be conducted without any violation of the law: either as part of an investigation subject to a judge’s permission, or with the government’s permission in a matter of national security for a limited period and with respect to proportionality. Either way, the activity must be stopped as soon as it no longer helps the investigation or the person under surveillance proves to be innocent. This system is under parliamentary control in every democratic country, and the process must remain as transparent as possible under the circumstances.
In contrast, Hungary’s legal regulations for surveillance have always been quite loose ever since the collapse of communism: the minister of justice can, even acting on political instructions, permit the “lawful” surveillance of anyone in Hungary for an unlimited period without the target being a suspect.
In fact, the number of people kept under surveillance with the minister’s permission has grown drastically year by year under the Fidesz government’s rule, while the pro-government majority has successfully been blocking the work of the Parliament’s National Security Committee by simply refusing to attend the meetings.
In today’s Hungary, secret service operations are clearly not conducted in an effort to protect the society and public order according to the European democratic norms. Instead, they are done based on political instructions, abusing the existing regulatory framework in order to keep the Orbán regime’s potential opponents under surveillance. Unfortunately, it hardly comes as a surprise to anyone who has been involved in Hungarian politics over the past years.
Fidesz has already dismantled and emptied all constitutional checks and balances, the state institutions are unashamedly used for partisan purposes and the surveillance operations are ordered by the current occupant of the justice minister’s seat Judit Varga, whose professional achievement can sufficiently be summed up as being the most aggressive mouthpiece of Viktor Orbán’s political clichés.
In the meantime, Orbán has developed friendships with such leaders as the Belarusian dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka, while pro-Fidesz intellectuals more and more frequently demand that Hungary should leave the European Union.
Surprisingly enough, the European institutions didn’t seem to have taken notice of all this until very recently. If we are serious about the European Union being a real value-based community and having no place for governments that persecute their own citizens and disrespect the rule of law and democracy, then we have to make it clear that the Orbán regime has long crossed every possible red line. Next year Hungary will hold parliamentary elections where the opposition parties, having shown great wisdom and dedication to democracy, rose above their earlier grievances and ideological disputes, and agreed to form a united front to face the Fidesz regime. On the other hand, you mustn’t entertain any illusions if Orbán and Fidesz would stop at anything to prevent the people of Hungary from expressing their real opinions. They wouldn’t.
That’s why it’s so important for European institutions not to tolerate any violation of the law and reject any government that openly defies democracy. Orbán has to go, but we, Hungarians want to stay where we belong: in Europe.
Source: Press release