Judit Varga – Photo: BZT / Nóra Halász

Report is "full of absurd claims that have nothing to do with reality", Fidesz MEP says

Justice minister: EC ‘blackmailing’ Hungary over child protection law

Lately the European Commission has been blackmailing Hungary over its child protection law, Justice Minister Judit Varga said on Facebook on Tuesday, commenting on the commission's fresh rule of law report.

“We are not surprised: the latest report of the European Commission focuses on the Hungarian Law on Child Protection,” she said in her English-language post. “According to them, in Hungary right now, there is no rule of law precisely because we protect children’s and parents’ rights at the highest level.”

She said the reason behind the EC’s criticism was that “we do not allow LGBTQ activists and any sexual propaganda into Hungarian schools and kindergartens.”

Once again, the EC is worried about the state of Hungarian democracy, while Hungary is working to guarantee the most fundamental rights and protect not just its own constitution but also the EU Charter for Fundamental Rights, the minister said.

She noted that the report released on Tuesday was the second of its kind within a year.

The report released last autumn also proves that it is impossible to compile an objective comparable analysis on complex legal institutions “based on politically motivated starting points, prejudices and unstable methodological footing”, Varga said.

“Be under no illusion: the verdict in the latest report on Hungary has been made even before a letter was written on a paper, as instead of justification, objectivity and real professional work, the report echoes the criticisms of those NGOs that remain negatively biased towards Hungary,” she said.

Varga said the report was part of the same campaign in which the rule of law was not a principle, but “a tool of extortion”.

It appears that once again the commission is choosing to appease the LGBTQ lobby over protecting national minorities or combatting anti-Semitism, she said.

In its report, the EC welcomed the Hungarian justice system’s high level of digitalisation and its performance in terms of the lengths of proceedings. It added, however, that a recommendation to Hungary to strengthen judicial independence “remains unaddressed”, noting that new rules allowing the appointment of members of the Constitutional Court to the Supreme Court outside of the normal procedure is among developments “adding to existing concerns”.

As for the system of checks and balances, the EC said the transparency and quality of the legislative process remained a source of concern.

The EC acknowledged in the report that Hungary is implementing an anti-corruption strategy but said “its scope remains limited”.

“Shortcomings persist as regards political party financing, lobbying and ‘revolving doors’. Risks of clientelism, favouritism and nepotism in high-level public administration as well as risks arising from the link between businesses and political actors remain unaddressed,” according to the report.

The EC said media pluralism in Hungary “remains at risk”, adding that “concerns persist with regard to the independence and effectiveness of the Media Authority”.

“While no media support schemes were established to counter the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on news media outlets, significant amounts of state advertising have continued to permit the government to exert indirect political influence over the media,” according to the report.

The commission said that emergency measures introduced during the pandemic had made timely access to public information harder for independent media outlets.

Report is “full of absurd claims that have nothing to do with reality”, Fidesz MEP says

Balazs Hidveghi, an MEP of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz, on Wednesday slammed the European Commission’s annual rule of law report covering all member states as “political blackmail dressed up in legal garb”.

“It didn’t come as a surprise,” Hidveghi said in a video message commenting on the report, adding that the government “had no illusions in connection with the EC’s so-called rule of law report after the events of the past few weeks”.

He said Brussels was “using this frivolous and biased document” to call Hungary to account for its own ideological expectations.

Hidveghi said the report was “full of absurd claims that have nothing to do with reality”.

If one looks over the report’s references it becomes clear that this text “was also dictated by the known Soros organisations”, the MEP said.

He said one such “absurd” claim was that Hungarian journalists faced intimidation and were not safe. “They’re saying this when just days ago an investigative journalist was murdered in broad daylight in the Netherlands,” he said.

“Meanwhile, another journalist was killed in Malta by a car bomb, yet Brussels is concerned about the state of the media in Hungary,” he added.

“This deceitful report is nothing more than an attempt to blackmail our country,” Hidveghi said. “All because we’re going against the Brussels-based mainstream, say no to immigration, protect our children and refuse to let LGBTQ activists into kindergartens and schools.”

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