Thursday

23rd May 2019

Hungarian PM to EU: 'We won't be a colony'

  • Hungary's Viktor Orban - on frequent collision course with Brussels (Photo: europeanpeoplesparty)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday (15 March) accused the EU of colonialism and meddling in his country's domestic affairs.

His words come after Budapest was hit with a €500 million EU funds freeze for its continued budget deficit and with legal action over constitutional changes limiting the independence of media, judges and the central bank.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"We will not be a colony. Hungarians won't live according to the commands of foreign powers, they won't give up their independence or their freedom," Orban told over 100,000 people gathered outside the parliament in Budapest on the anniversary of the country's 1848 revolution against Hapsburg rule.

"As a European nation we demand equal treatment. We will not be second class European citizens. Our rightful demand is to have the same standards apply to us, which apply to other countries," he said.

These words reflect a sense that Brussels is keener to apply its new tough budget rules to smaller countries, than it is to larger ones. Earlier this week, a budget concession was granted to Spain while Hungary was sanctioned.

Orban's centre-right party (Fidesz) enjoys a super-majority in the parliament after a landslide win in the 2010 elections. The political dominance has allowed him to pass sweeping constitutional changes - changes that the European Parliament and democracy watchdogs have since deemed anti-democratic.

An anti-Communist himself, Orban compared EU meddling with Soviet rule: "We are more than familiar with the character of unsolicited comradely assistance, even if it comes wearing a finely tailored suit and not a uniform with shoulder patches."

In his view, "European bureaucrats" look at Budapest with distrust because the government chose "new ways" of tackling public debt and has not shied away from proclaiming the supremacy of nation states.

"If we don’t act in time, in the end, the whole of Europe can become a colony of the modern financial system," he said, vowing to 'protect' the Hungarian constitution by any means.

Fidesz' public support has dropped by 20 percent compared to 2010 when it won with over 60 percent of the vote. Last year was marked by anti-government protests following the constitutional changes. Meanwhile, several thousand people - mainly students and grassroots organisations - staged a peaceful demonstration in another part of Budapest on Thursday.

"If we choose to stay (in the EU) then we need to resolve our problems based on the club's rules," Levente Halasz, one of the protesters told Reuters.

EU gives Hungary one month to fix laws

The EU commission on Wednesday gave Hungary a one-month deadline to change its controversial laws or face court cases in Luxembourg, just as Budapest is struggling to secure a loan from international lenders.

Opinion

Ill winds blow for Viktor the troublemaker

Shaken by its poor economy and angry at the EU's criticism of Viktor Orban's controversial reforms, Hungary has been chatting up non-democratic states that demonstrate an openness for investment and financial aid.

Key details on how Europeans will vote

It's one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world with over 400 million eligible voters. National rules apply, and national parties run, but the stakes are at European level.

News in Brief

  1. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  2. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal
  3. UK sacked defence secretary backs Johnson for leader
  4. Dutch voter turnout so far slightly down on 2014
  5. Report: Hungary's Fidesz 'bought' Belgian official
  6. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  7. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  8. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election
  2. Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble
  3. EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal
  4. EU should stop an insane US-Iran war
  5. EU faces moment of truth at midnight on Sunday
  6. Dutch MPs: EU sanctions should bear Magnitsky name
  7. Far-right hate speech flooded Facebook ahead of EU vote
  8. Key details on how Europeans will vote

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us