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Justice minister: Hungary ready for dialogue with EU, rejects double standards

Hungary is open dialogue with the European Union, Justice Minister Judit Varga said before a Gerenal Affairs Council ministerial meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday, "but it rejects double standards and stigmatisation".

Commenting on the agenda concerning specific countries in connection with the rule of law, Varga told journalists: “This is happening at a time when a war is under way in Ukraine, and the EU must demonstrate solidarity and unity, so the focus should be on issues that unite member states instead of those that drive a wedge between them.”

Varga said the Hungarian electorate had recently given “the national conservative government a historic mandate for the fourth time”. “This is a strong and comprehensive mandate, with support from 54 percent of voters, which obliges us to remain faithful to our voters’ expectations.”

“Our voters can see the concerns of the European Commission and certain EU partners, but our voters are Hungarian citizens,” she said. “Hungary’s democracy does not share these concerns.”

At the same time, the minister said that Hungary was “open to dialogue in the spirit of mutual respect, applying nn unbiased approach which excludes double standards and stigmatisation. We can put up with criticism and are willing to address these concerns,” she added.

Varga said the government would always carefully listen to other member states and their situation concerning the rule of law. The aim should be to exchange experiences and best practices, learning from each other’s constitutional identities, she added.

Commenting on EC President Ursula von der Leyen’s announcement last week of a rule-of-law review of Hungary, Varga said: “Hungary has not been sent a letter, and, as far as I understand, the meeting of the College of Commissioners on the decision has not yet been called; this is expected to take place in late April. We must receive the letter first and thoroughly review it.”

The full system of rule-of-law conditions is based on a December 2020 political agreement between EU leaders and the EC, she said. The conditions were clearly agreed on at the time and the mechanism is applicable in terms of the new financial framework and the recovery fund, she added.

“If Hungary has not received funding from these resources, then how could we spend them in an irregular way?,” she said. “This is a legal concern and also a concern regarding its content,” she said.

Varga said that when countries become EU member states, their markets are opened up and cohesion strengthens development between them, “with the least developed countries advancing their economic development and everyone getting a decent share”. Varga cited a former German commissioner who said “every cent we invest in central and eastern Europe adds a further 76 cents to German GDP.”

She added that the excellent performance of Hungary’s economy had been an important element in the government’s election win.

“We rank in second place in terms of economic growth,” she said. Poland, “a country with which Hungary has had centuries of partnership based on historical and constitutional similarities,” ranks in first place, she said. “We have always been friends and this will remain the case in the future, too,” she said.

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