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EP resolution on Hungary: commentators divided

February 20th, 2012

Left and right wing columnists are sharply divided on the resolution the European Parliament adopted on Hungary earlier this week. While conservative commentators condemn Hungarian Socialist MEPs for actively taking part, their left wing counterparts call on the government to act. The European Parliament adopted a four-party resolution on recent political developments in Hungary on Thursday. The document, submitted by the Socialist, Liberal and Green groups and the European United Left/Nordic Green Left party, expresses “serious concern” about “the exercise of democracy, the rule of law, the respect and protection of human and social rights, the system of checks and balances, equality and non-discrimination.” The European Peoples’ Party and the Conservatives rejected the resolution as being “ignorant of the facts” and interfering in Hungary’s internal affairs, while others called it a “necessary warning”.

In Magyar Nemzet, Szabolcs Szerető believes the resolution will serve as a reference point for opponents of the cabinet at home and abroad, but is insufficient to provoke a political turnaround.

The pro-government daily condemns Hungarian Socialists for taking part in the drafting of the resolution. „The [Hungarian] opposition is a real Hungarian speciality as their arsenal includes high treason as well”- writes Szabolcs Szerető.

Meanwhile, Hungary has sent her reply to the concerns of the European Commission, hoping to get its approval for negotiations with the IMF on a credit line. In another column in Magyar Nemzet, Tamás Nánási admits that Hungary had to give up its previous economic policies, because it could not resist the unprecedented depreciation of the Forint which was the response of the markets to her financial unorthodoxy. He suggests Hungary had only two bad options to choose between: either further depreciation or revising her economic policy. „The grass bends when hit by a strong wind, but does not break and will recover when the wind subsides”– Nánásik explains.

In Magyar Hírlap, Tamás Fricz, a well-known political analyst and a leading figure of an organization which supported the pro-government demonstration in January (See BudaPost, January 23 and 24), condemns the Hungarian Socialist MEPs who co-authored the resolution stigmatising Hungary, and dismisses their claim that the text does not call for stripping Hungary of her voting rights. ”Thank you very much! But it does threaten constant monitoring under article 7 of the Treaty, which is a first step towards the rudest of sanctions”.

Tamás Fricz who was present at a previous hearing in Brussels, says that the left-wing participants completely ignored all counter-arguments. He believes that the Left, which already dominates the political discourse in Europe, wants to impose its own ideas and categories on the conservatives. “This is a struggle, a political fight rather than a conversation” – the analyst exclaims in Magyar Hírlap.

In the same pro-government daily, Csaba Szajlai warns that spreading anti-EU feelings in Hungary only plays into the hands of far right Jobbik. The country needs the EU’s financial support, the problem is that the resources are misused, but that’s not Brussels fault –the columnist points out.

In Népszava, Tamás Rónay calls it extremely embarrassing that the EP adopted the most critical of the three draft resolutions that were tabled. The left wing columnist rejects the explanation according to which Hungary is facing a leftist-liberal plot. And he points out that most EU countries are ruled by conservative parties. Tamás Rónay believes that the EP has given time to Hungary to amend legislation which was found to be in conflict with EU norms.
In Népszabadság, Eszter Zalán also remarks that the resolution could not have passed without the backing of some right-wing MEPs. She quotes Brussels sources as saying that some Finnish, Swedish and French People’s Party MEPs voted in favour of the text and scores of others abstained or did not attend. She also mentions, however that the EC can only stop the power concentration in certain areas, but cannot undo the Orbán-regime as a whole.

Conservative analyst, Ferenc Kumin, finds the reasons for and the aim of the „leftist power demonstration” unclear and highly questionable, as it theoretically gives ground to a possible invocation of Article 7 of the Treaty that could strip Hungary of its right to draw on EU funds.

Although Ferenc Kumin calls the implementation of the Article highly unlikely, he thinks that “It is very hard for them (the Socialists) to explain that this theoretical possibility might only hit the centre-right Hungarian government and not the country as a whole”.

In Konzervatórium, “Dobray” finds it insincere that while the resolution was rejected by the EPP and the Conservatives (therefore was hardly a consensual one), it expects Hungary to pass her laws on a consensual basis.

The conservative blogger remarks that Hungary is being forced to adopt recommendations of non-EU organizations (such as the European Council and the Venice Commission), although such advice is not considered binding in the case of other countries, such as Slovakia (when it comes to the limitations imposed on the right of ethnic Hungarians to use their mother tongue in public.

Such cases only push Hungary away from the European Union, the blogger warns and finds it most hilarious to see Communist MEPs worrying about democracy in Hungary.

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