Heavy weather in perspective. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addressed a letter to Ursula von der Leyen asking the Commission President to dismiss European Commissioner Vera Jourova, Vice President of the said Commission. A first in the world of European institutions. “These statements are incompatible with his current mandate and his resignation is essential,” concludes Orban. The Czech Commissioner, in charge of Values and Transparency, clearly offended the Hungarian leader in an interview with the Spiegel in which she called Hungary a “sick democracy”. Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday morning that Commissioner Jourova retained her “full confidence” and that she would respond to the letter from the Hungarian Prime Minister.
In his letter of September 28, including Point Upon hearing, Viktor Orban considers that Vera Jourova “has insulted European citizens of Hungarian nationality by declaring that they are not in a position to form an independent opinion. These statements are not only a direct attack on the democratically elected government of Hungary which has become commonplace, it is also a humiliation towards Hungary and the Hungarian people. The first is inappropriate, the second is unacceptable, ”continues the strong man from Budapest.
Hungary in the crosshairs
Viktor Orban denounces the violation of the “neutrality” of the Commission enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon. According to him, Vera Jourova’s words “constitute a flagrant violation of the principle of sincere cooperation and prevent any future meaningful dialogue between Hungary and the Vice-President”.
This major diplomatic incident comes on the eve of the presentation by the Commission – and in particular Vera Jourova – of a general review on the rule of law in the 27 countries of the Union. Hungarian democracy has been particularly targeted for several years and an article 7 sanction procedure was initiated against the Orban government by the European Parliament, which was based on a report highlighting various grievances. This report has been strongly contested by Hungary, which sees in it only the billiards shot of its left-wing opponents. However, a significant part of the EPP voted for this accusatory report during its examination in the European Parliament.
“Illiberal democracy”, according to Orban
For several years, Viktor Orban has been theorizing about the advent of an “illiberal democracy” (what Jourova referred to in the Spiegel). In a recent article by Magyar Nemzet, the emblematic leader of the V4s (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia) considered that his ideological fight against liberal democracy is gaining ground in people’s minds. “More and more people are showing increasing courage in breaking free from the shackles of the suffocating and restrictive, unique and approved way of speaking, the only approved concept of democracy and the only approved interpretation of Europe and the West, he wrote. […] But even if we manage to escape the systematic patrols of well-paid liberal border guards, we still have to fight against the deep-rooted reflexes of an ever-so-well-meaning public opinion. Sophisticated arguments go nowhere: If nationalism is praised, Germans will suffer from stomach cramps. […] And so silky that we speak of illiberal democracy, the term is terribly hard on German and Anglo-Saxon ears. This is still the case today. “
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The Commission, for its part, has defined the rule of law with regard to several parameters that it will detail, country by country, from Wednesday September 30: democratic elections, media pluralism, judicial independence, and the fight against corruption and abuse of power, in particular with regard to the effective application of Union law.
“Let’s get on well: it is not the rule of law that bothers us, reacted Georges Karolyi, the Hungarian ambassador in Paris, in an interview with the Point. It is obvious that the rule of law must be respected within the European Union, we have never said the opposite. And we are quiet about it: Hungary is a rule of law. What bothers us is the use that some make of it: the problem stems from the fact that some, under the cover of the rule of law, and therefore of legal considerations, seek to question, and to sanction, a a number of political choices, mainly societal, of Hungary, which they do not share. This attitude seems deeply anti-European to us, because these choices are perfectly legitimate, they do not threaten the values or the cohesion of the Union, and have nothing to do with a financial debate on European funds. “