Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Hungary under fire from Brussels

April 15th, 2013

A leading left-wing commentator criticises the Prime Minister’s explanation of the discontent expressed by European officials over recent legal developments in Hungary, while a Fidesz MEP thinks Hungary’s policies are being criticised because they do not fit into “the liberal consensus”.

In 168 óra, Tamás Mészáros finds it absurd that in a recent radio interview PM Viktor Orbán called the European Parliament “a non-European (meaning uncivilised) place”.

The Prime Minister will travel to London on Wednesday this week to attend Margaret Thatcher’s funeral ceremony, and will not attend a debate on recent Hungarian legislation in the European parliament in Strasbourg. He took part at two such debates over the past two years and told the interviewer that in his experience the European Parliament was a place where over-excited MEPs shout angrily about subjects they are badly under-informed about. Meanwhile, in his swift answer to a letter by EC Chairman José Manuel Barroso, the Prime Minister wrote he had already taken the initiative to introduce amendments to the regulations criticised by the Commission.

Mészáros says Mr Orbán fails to give a decent answer to the criticism coming from Brussels, for “accusing everyone there, apart from People’s Party MEPs of harbouring hatred towards Hungary” can hardly be regarded as a considered response. He suspects Mr Orbán does not even means what he says, and rather than evidence of paranoia, his remarks are part of a communication strategy. The more he is being attacked, the more he appears like a fearless defender of national interest. Mészáros believes the real reason  is that the Prime Minister wants to divert  attention from his role in leading the country into a spiral of recession or at least  stagnation.  And since he can easily imagine that the European Commission will not waive the excessive deficit procedure to which Hungary has been subject since 2004, he is already preparing the ground for his reaction to such an unpleasant decision. The problem is, Mészáros argues, that the European Commission is not a caucus of left-wing liberals. Mr Barroso and most of his colleagues are conservatives.

In Mos Maiorum, FIDESZ MEP George Schöpflin believes Hungary has run into such resolute opposition in Brussels and Strasbourg because the measures its government has taken violate what he calls the modern “liberal consensus”. Here are a few excerpts from the interview with him published by Mos Maiorum in English:

“The very fact that a centre-right party should not only have been elected by a two thirds majority, but should actually have the impertinence to use it to effect a transformation, is flying in the face of history and mist, logically, be eliminated from the political field as a threat to the liberal mindset.”

“The steady diet of one-sided reporting by the media and the constant repetition of the condemnations of Hungary have had some effect (on the European People’s Party). (…) A particular problem is the approach of some of the German MEPs who are resentful or at least uneasy with the extra taxes on German-owned businesses. The power of the German business lobby cannot be underestimated, and, seemingly, it does not care much for the sovereignty of the Hungarian people.”

“The government’s communication almost certainly never took into consideration the sheer ill-will that the media are capable of, of the speed with which a media avalanche can emerge, of the groupthink phenomenon, the utter refusal of journalists to admit a mistake or to engage in a dialogue, to recognise that the exercise power for which they are accountable, or their left-wing political commitment”.

Tags: , ,