28th Sep 2023


Right of Reply from the Hungarian government

  • Zoltán Kovács is government commissioner for the 2024 Hungarian EU presidency, and secretary of state for international communication and relations (Photo: Zoltan Kovacs' office)
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In an opinion piece published on June 5, entitled Why Hungary cannot be permitted to hold EU presidency, authors Samira Rafaela and Tom Theuns openly call on EU institutions to strip Hungary of its right to hold the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2024.

While such calls resonate well with the European Parliament's largely liberal, anti-Hungary majority, in reality it's nothing more than their wishful thinking.

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We firmly believe that it will stay that way, and the grown-ups at other EU institutions will refrain from joining the European Parliament's latest, politically-motivated campaign against Hungary. Because doing otherwise puts in jeopardy the very foundations of the European Union.

Let's look at the 'what if'. What if Hungary were barred from holding its EU presidency next year? In a nutshell, it would mean that the European Union departs from what's laid down in the EU's founding treaties and withdraws rights from a member state solely based on speculation, extreme political opinions, and anti-Hungary bias.

In this hypothetical scenario, member states could be easily stripped of their rights granted by the Treaties simply because they are in disagreement with the European Parliament's left-liberal majority on certain political issues. The sovereign states that make up the Union would be subject to the political whims of the European Parliament.

And that's exactly what the European Parliament wants. It'd be the next major step in its decades-long quest for greater power. I invite everyone to look behind the façade of objectivity and explore the EP's true intentions.

There's, however, another aspect of Rafaela and Theuns' opinion piece that deserves a closer look. The authors argue that Hungary's EU presidency would "undermine European cooperation in key areas, such as asylum and migration."

Undermine how? Sure, we would use the agenda-setting power of the presidency to spark much-needed dialogue on issues that are important to us, but, in the end, any decision would remain in the hands of EU heads of state and government. Anyone who believes that the objectives and political goals of one member state, even if it's holding the rotating presidency, could so easily shift EU policies in its favour simply does not know the basics of how the EU works.

What's more, Rafaela and Theuns repeatedly denounce Hungary's democratic system by calling it names like "deplorable" or "eroded", yet provide no facts to support these claims. In fact, Hungary's democracy is alive and kicking, with the widest electoral support behind prime minister Orbán's government in the whole European Union. Voter participation in Hungary, unlike turnout for EP elections, has been strong.

The article cites one OSCE report about Hungary's 2022 elections, but stays quiet about other reports that took no issue with our electoral procedures. The cited OSCE report found the 2022 parliamentary elections offered voters "distinct alternatives" and "were well administered."

Also, it's refreshing to read that our election system, long criticised by our friends at mainstream media and NGO groups, "provides an adequate basis for the conduct of democratic elections."

The article goes on to mention the EP's resolution that labelled Hungary as an "electoral autocracy", but that's simply a circular reference. They fail to note that the EP is dominated by an overwhelmingly liberal majority with strong anti-Hungary bias dating back more than a decade.

Here's a final question EUobserver readers should seriously consider: isn't it the purpose of the rotating presidency that each member state gets to raise issues important to them on a European level once every 13 or 14 years?

We must not let the European Parliament destroy this principle simply because a member sate takes policy positions that challenge the views held by certain members of the parliament.

Author bio

Zoltán Kovács is government commissioner for the 2024 Hungarian EU presidency, and secretary of state for international communication and relations.


The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.


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