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Apr 21, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

Comedy of Errors: In case you still had any doubt about who’s behind this campaign

The folks at Civico Europa worry about viruses: COVID-19, and the virus of Hungarian autocracy.

So worried, in fact, about COVID-19 that they took the time to draft a lengthy editorial about the “unprecedented” concentration of power in Hungary and have it published in some 19, mostly left-liberal and enthusiastically compliant European newspapers.

But their editorial was, as they say, dead on arrival.

The main point, buried in paragraph 13 of their call to arms, is this little urgency: “We call on the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, to urgently react and propose sanctions proportional to the seriousness of such an unacceptable violation of European rules and values.”

What violation? just the previous day, European Commissioner Vera Jourova had already shut that argument down in an interview.

“Hungary has not adopted any such decree that would contradict European regulations,” Commissioner Jourova said. A state of emergency, she explained, is a sovereign decision of the country, which inevitably leads to the restriction of individual freedoms and the strengthening of the power of the state, which has also occurred in other European countries during this crisis period.

MEP and former Czech Foreign Minister Alexandr Vondra appearing on the same television program said that he appreciates that the European Commission finally read the Hungarian emergency law before judging it.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many of the signatories of the Civico text.

But what’s most interesting about this feeble effort is not the substance – or lack thereof – but the who.

In case anyone still had any doubts about who’s behind this campaign against Hungary, this OpEd and its signatories drag it out into broad daylight: It’s Europe’s left-liberal elite.

It’s an initiative of four Civico members, all of them leftists: Guy Verhofstadt; Francesco Ratti, a former member of the cabinet in the European Parliament of Enrique Barón, who was a member of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party; Guillaume Klossa, who as an adviser to Jean-Pierre Jouyet, prominent French Socialist and member of President Holland’s cabinet; and of course, László Andor, former European commissioner and member of the Hungarian Socialist Party.

The list of signatories reads – with a few notable exceptions -- like a roster of Europe’s leftist politicians and liberal editors. One of the names on the list, as Hungary’s Mandiner reported earlier today, is Sándor Lederer, who was convicted in Hungary in 2002 and given a suspended prison sentence for toppling a cross that stood on the sight of a famous Budapest church that had been destroyed under the Communists. Civico’s members, you see, are great champions of European values.

Mandiner also noted (see photo) that Civico forgot to run a spell check, misspelling the name of Verhofstadt and at least four of the newspapers that published the article.

And these are the people that we – and citizens of the European Union – are supposed to take seriously.

We therefore call on all stakeholders - European institutions, national institutions and governments, citizens, civil society, and the media - to be as vigilant as they can. It is time for widespread mobilisation and collective action.  

It does not serve the fight against Covid-19 or its economic consequences.