The European Parliament was expected to vote on a report criticising the state of the rule of law in Hungary prepared by its civil liberties committee (LIBE) on 12 September (shortly after this edition of The Budapest Times went to press). The report, authored by Green MEP Judith Sargentini, says there is a "clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values of the European Union", and calls for launching Article 7, which suspends a member state's voting rights.

In an open letter to MEPs, civil groups including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, the International Federation for Human Rights, Civil Society Europe, the European Policy Institute of the Open Society Foundations, the International Commission of Jurists and Climate Action Europe voiced their concerns over what they believe is Hungary's straying from the common path of the European Union "built on respect by all member states for human rights, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms".

They said the current Hungarian government "has stepped off this common path, curbing media freedom, freedom of association and undermining the independence of its courts … If unchecked, the deterioration of respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law in Hungary will continue and spread further across Europe."

"European leaders have accommodated, coaxed and warned the government of Hungary. Those efforts have proven futile. In fact, the lack of clear action has emboldened Hungary's increasingly autocratic leadership."

Ruling Fidesz said in response that US financier George "Soros's allies attacked Hungary again, wanting revenge on Hungarians". Hungary has halted the flow of migrants at its borders and demonstrated that migration is not an inevitable phenomenon that has to be accepted, Balázs Hidvéghi, the party's communication chief, told public media. The NGOs signing the letter "want to flood Europe with migrants" and are on "Soros's payroll", he said.

# The report is "a patchwork resulting from a show trial motivated by political reasons": state secretary Balázs Orbán

Balázs Orbán, state secretary of the Prime Minister's Office, said the report is "a patchwork resulting from a show trial motivated by political reasons". It is part of the European parliamentary election campaign, which will be defined by the parties' approach to migration, with "the future of Europe at stake", he said.

The state secretary said the government had recently prolonged the state of emergency due to mass migration that was first introduced in September 2015. There are continued attempts to enter the country illegally, the police regularly identify illegal immigrants, and thousands of migrants have been stranded on the "Balkan route", waiting to enter the European Union, he insisted.

Fidesz parliamentary group leader Máté Kocsis said the 2019 European parliamentary elections will be contested between factions that support migration and those that oppose it. Kocsis said the report on Hungary by the civil liberties committee was "teeming with lies" and had been drafted in preparation for next year's elections.

Kocsis said Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's mission in the EP debate on the report scheduled for 11-12 September will be to defend Hungary from "unfounded and unfair attacks". He said the prime minister will make it clear in the debate that the report is "politically motivated" and was drafted by "[US financier] George Soros's associates in Brussels" with the aim of putting pressure on Hungary.

He said the line of division in European politics between "those serving the interests of the Soros empire" and those "who are willing and able to stop migration" was becoming more and more clearly defined. Kocsis said people such as French President Emmanuel Macron and Judith Sargentini, who he said were working as hard as they could to get member states to accept immigration, belonged in the former camp. He said the opposing side comprised politicians opposing migration and moving closer to the lines embraced by Orbán and Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

# Liberal MEP Judith Sargentini was the author of the report

Europe's future hinges on whether it will ultimately become a "continent of immigrants" or succeed in protecting itself, Kocsis insisted. He said Hungary was picking up more and more allies in its goal to make sure that Europe's destiny is the latter, naming the other three Visegrád countries, Italy and Austria as examples. He added that it looked like the tide on migration policy has also turned in Germany.

Kocsis said national governments in the EU were starting to enforce the will of their people and protect their countries, while the leadership in Brussels was using the EP election campaign to "continue to force this failed migration policy".


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