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Oct 01, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

PM Orbán: “When they question the rule of law, they step on our honor”

At a joint press conference with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the Finnish PM, Antti Rinne, made clear that he will seek to make EU payments subject to the rule of law. Yet Finland itself fails to meet several important criteria of the rule of law, thus giving a clear example of the double standards that continue to prevail in the European Union. We should focus “more on what we agree on and less on where there are disagreements,” said Prime Minister Orbán.

“The new regulation on the distribution of EU funds is now considered a political slogan,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said. “International relations are based on respect for each other and not being disparaged.”

“When they question the rule of law, they step on our honor,” Orbán declared, adding that Hungary lived under a dictatorship for 40 years, so the rule of law is a matter of honor in the country.

“It should be noted that in Central Europe, freedom of the press and the rule of law are not a political tool. We take this seriously and hope that it will not be used as a political weapon against Hungary,” PM Orbán emphasized.

For her part, the Finnish PM avoided giving any direct answers to questions, while PM Orbán clarified that the disbursement of budgetary funds is still subject to conditions. But if someone wants new rules, they need precise rules.

Despite PM Rinne’s attempt to pressure Hungary, it is Finland that has failed rule of law standards on several fronts, including media pluralism, independence of the judiciary, the Constitutional Court, and the rights of migrants. This highlights the double standards frequently applied to Hungary.

Regarding the rejection by the European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee of the Hungarian nominee to the European Commission, László Trócsányi, the Hungarian prime minister said that Ursula von der Leyen asked him to nominate a new candidate. However, there will be no change in the Hungarian Commissioner’s portfolio.

“Trócsányi led the Fidesz list at the EU election and…this list got 53 percent. We thought it would make the decision easier [to the EP], but it didn’t,” said PM Orbán. “I cannot allow someone else, the EP for example, to choose among Hungarian politicians in place of the Hungarian people, so that’s why I nominated a technocrat, Olivér Várhelyi.”

The press conference also covered clean energy and trade, two areas in which Finland and Hungary can work together in a positive way. “We agreed that the European institutions that are now set up should focus much more on what we agree on and less on where there are disagreements,” said PM Orbán.

Both countries will make every effort to improve economic cooperation, and Hungary's aim is to have 90 percent of its domestic energy supply carbon-neutral by 2030. The prime minister said that they agreed to build on both nuclear and renewable energy sources.

In his closing statement, PM Orbán reflected on Hungary’s new, higher-profile role in the EU. Despite the persistent double standards, the prime minister is committed to making Hungary a productive and valuable player inside the European Union going forward.

“Overall, we both hope that the incoming heads of the institutions will run a more successful five years than we have behind us,” Orbán said.

Photo credit: kormany.hu