Hungary will not be blackmailed, PM Orban tells EU

Explained EU parliament targets Hungary's'breach of values

The Council of Ministers- the second legislative organ of the EU- will now take up the issue

Energy issues will be "very heavily on the agenda" at a meeting between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin next Tuesday in Moscow, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told Reuters on Wednesday.

But the 197 votes cast against parliament's first bid to launch the punitive process of the EU treaty's Article 7 highlighted the substantial minority of European opinion who see Orban as a crusader for the rights of nation states and ethnic majorities against rules of civic behavior agreed in Brussels.

And with Hungary's regional allies Poland and the Czech Republic offering to shield it against any EU sanctions, Orban's gamble is likely to pay off - although his Fidesz party may end up having to quit the conservative European People's Party (EPP), now the largest grouping in the Parliament.

Hungary has promoted Moscow's interests within the European Union, repeatedly calling for the ending of economic sanctions imposed after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.

It was the first time the European Union legislature had triggered disciplinary action against a member state, which could strip the Hungarian government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, of its European Union voting rights.

It added: "Each EU Member State has a sovereign right to carry out the internal reforms that it considers appropriate". For the preventive mechanism, a decision in the Council requires a majority of four fifths of member states, whereas a determination on the existence of a breach requires unanimity among European Union heads of state and government.

The Hungarian foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, called the vote "petty revenge" against his country's tough anti-migration policies. Macron has sought to take the lead in fighting nationalists including Orban and Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, and he has called himself the "main opponent" of the two politicians.




The European Commission initiated similar proceedings against Warsaw in December and three months later the Hungarian parliament adopted a resolution supporting Warsaw in its fight against the bloc, saying the commission does not have "the right to meddle" in the domestic affairs of member states and that it was "unjustified" in initiating Article 7 proceedings. Britain's Nigel Farage, a pro-Brexit MEP, wrote that the decision demonstrated "the authoritarian grip of the EU". The EU country concerned does not take part in either vote.

In a brief speech to parliament on Tuesday, Orban vowed that Hungary would resist any attempt to "blackmail" it into softening its anti-migrant stance, which he charged was the motive behind the vote.

But Ms Sargentini, who wrote the report on Mr Orban's government, said the decision sent an important message that the European Union would stand up for citizens' rights.

"Individuals close to the government have been enriching themselves, their friends and family members at the expense of Hungarian and European taxpayers".

"Hungary and the Hungarian people are being condemned because they proved that migration can be stopped and there is no need for migration", Szajer said.

"We believe that there can be no compromises on the rule of law and democracy", Kurz told ORF television.

Among the concerns raised at the European Parliament was the Hungarian government's actions against CEU.

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