Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s right-wing government remained at loggerheads with the EU’s executive this week as he and senior officials dismissed “serious concerns” voiced by the president of the European Commission over the ruling Fidesz party’s recent Fourth Amendment to an already controversial new consitution.
One message to Brussels
This came a week after the latest exchange of letters between Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Orbán. “I strongly appeal to you and to your government to address these concerns and to tackle them in a determined and unambiguous way,” Barroso had written. “This is without doubt in the best interest of Hungary and of the EU as a whole.” Orbán replied last Friday: “I certainly pay full attention to the points you raised and have already initiated the necessary legislative steps to follow them up.”
Another message to supporters
However, pronouncements by other officials suggested that the government sees no reason to cancel the fourth amendment, which circumvents recent Constitutional Court rulings by inserting laws — such as a framework enabling the banning of homeless people from public areas — directly into the Fundamental Law. On the same day, Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics told viewers of pro-government news channel HirTV that concerns raised in Barroso’s letter were groundless and its threats empty.
Hungary is awaiting the results of a European Commission probe of the new legislation, Orbán said in the Spanish city of Bilbao on Monday. “We are democrats, we believe in the strength of facts and arguments,” he said. While in the Basque capital during a visit to Spain Orbán gave a speech at a conference on “Catholics in Public Life” organised by the Asociación Católica de Propagandistas (Catholic Association of Propagandists). “Europe needs a Christian renewal,” he said, according to the association’s website.