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Apr 07, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

A Finnish take on Hungary’s state of emergency draws parallel to Hitler, then struggles with basic facts

This time, it’s a former Finnish ambassador to Budapest offering lessons on democracy and rule of law in a piece published by Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund that operates under the Finnish Parliament and where Petri Tuomi-Nikula is listed as a “Senior Adviser, Democratic Renovation.”

“The events in Hungary are frighteningly reminiscent of the way Hitler once rose to power,” Petri Tuomi-Nikula writes. What?

I get it that Hungary has become the bête-noire among certain liberal circles and taking shots at our government seems like an easy way to score points for some, but the ambassador’s argument – as is the case with most attacks on PM Orbán – has trouble with basic facts.

First off, Tuomi-Nikula raises the alarm that Hungary “formally renounced the rule of law and democracy this week,” adding that “a law has now come into force that allows the country to be governed by regulations, without the involvement of Parliament.”

False. Read my own post on this and that of legal experts: Hungary’s Coronavirus Protection Act does NOT grant Prime Minister Orbán “unlimited power.” In fact, these extraordinary powers can only be exercised to prevent, treat, eradicate and remedy the harmful effects of the coronavirus epidemic.

Secondly, there was this gem from the former ambassador: “Parliament will no longer meet […] the monopoly ends when the monarch so decides.”

False again. The law does not dissolve Parliament. In fact, it convened this week, according to its normal schedule. And under the provisions of the law, the Government should inform Parliament about the measures being taken. Plus, the Parliament can lift the state of danger at any time, and the adopted decrees will last only as long as the threat – i.e., the pandemic – is present.

Because all good Tuomi-Nikula errors come in threes, he also claims mistakenly that the Hungarian government has been maintaining a state of emergency – originally declared because of illegal mass migration – in force since 2015 without any reason, for the situation, he claims, has changed immensely since that time.

The situation has changed to some degree but only because Hungary was able to make decisions that the EU could not, or would not. Hungary spent millions of euros on personnel and infrastructure to build a fence on its southern border – an external border of the EU’s Schengen Area – resulting in a drastic drop in illegal border crossings on the Western Balkans migration route, from 764,033 in 2015 to 5,869 in 2018! And anyone who claims that the migration crisis is over should have a look at the current situation on the Turkish-Greek border.

Lastly, if I may, please consider reading the actual text of the act instead of repeating the arguments of the mainstream, international left-liberal press from the last few days, recycling their errors as your own “ideas.”