Chief of Staff: Hungary to Participate in Article 7 Debate
Prime Minister Orbán's chief of staff, Mr. Gergely Gulyás said that even though the Hungarian government holds the European Parliament's decision on the Sargentini Report invalid, the Hungarian Government will still participate in the debate on the Article 7 procedure before the EU's General Affairs Council.
At his international press conference, Gulyás stated that there is a procedure against Hungary that stems from a political decision, even if it is dressed up as a rule-of-law issue. He said the Hungarian Government believes it's an absurd accusation that Hungary presents a clear risk of a serious breach of the EU values.
Mr. Gulyás also said that the Sargentini report (a document about the serious risks of Hungary breaching core European values recently approved by the European Parliament) does not only contain false statements but touches upon subjects outside of EU jurisdiction. He went on to say that the procedure might create a bad precedent since the procedure and the report itself is
sending the wrong message and might lead member states to the conclusion that there is no sense in constructive negotiations with the European Commission.
The minister also claimed that the Hungarian Government was open to a compromise with the Commission in most cases, like in the cases of Hungary's media law or its justice system, when the Hungarian Parliament could reach an agreement and managed to close these infringement procedures against Hungary.
If these sorts of cases can be brought up five or six years later as bases of accusations, then it carries the message that the fair and constructive cooperation with European Union institutions is impossible
the minister said.
It is important to note that despite what Mr. Gulyás's remark might insinuate, the report adopted by the European Parliament this September does not merely base its assessments on long-resolved cases. While the report does indeed make a reference to the consistent readiness of the Hungarian authorities to discuss the legality of certain measures, but remarks that they failed to take all actions recommended in previous resolutions.
For instance, the report's chapter on freedom of expression mentions the welcome changes made to the Press and Media Acts, but goes on to remind that according to the observations of the UN Human Rights Committee, as late as April 2018, the legislative framework still did not fully ensure an uncensored and unhindered press due to the successive changes to Hungary's media laws. The report mentions many other unresolved issues in this domain as well, such as the concentration and politicization of media ownership, the presence of self-censorship, the absence of an independent media regulatory body, the public media clearly favoring the ruling coalition, the hindered access to pluralistic information, and the influx of government publicity campaigns during the lead-up to the 2018 election.
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