A Stalinist Constitution?!


For the sake of Transparency, here is the Live Brussels Blog. In it Viktor Orban is compared to Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, for dirty dealings, and was asked to straighten out the new Constitution, he calls Stalinist:


Live blog: Viktor Orban at the EU parliament
January 18, 2012 1:44 pm by Peter Spiegel

Viktor Orban, Hungarian prime minister. AFP/Getty Images
Welcome to our live coverage of Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban’s appearance before the European parliament, where he intends to defend his government’s recent actions against accusations they are anti-democratic.

SUMMARY: The European parliament has gone on to other business, but Orban has left the building, so we’re wrapping up our live coverage. A quick summary:
Although there were some fireworks, they mostly came from MEPs on the ideological left and not from Orban himself, who sat through the entire session and remained decorous throughout. A letter Orban sent to Barroso, obtained by the FT, was even more conciliatory. A sign of things to come? The Hungarians have a month to respond to the European Commission’s legal action, so the clock is ticking.

Hungary’s prime minister Orban listens to the debate before delivering his closing remarks.
17.08 After enduring more than three hours of criticism and complaint, Orban kept his cool in his closing. For the most part he was accommodating, inviting MEPs to read the country’s new constitution (assuming they can get hold of a reliable translation). Orban said his government will “factor in” the commission’s suggestions on the judiciary retirements. He also said his government accepted most of Brussels’ points on central bank reforms. The exception is the commission’s opposition to a plan to require the country’s central bank president to swear an oath to the state, which the EU believes compromises the bank’s legal requirement towards the broader European economy as a member of the ECB board.
Still, Orban’s gracious tone was somewhat undercut by his insistence that the day’s debate “wasn’t just about concrete facts” and was driven by “hatred based on partisan politics.” There was applause when he finishes, although not from Cohn-Bendit and Verhofstadt. In fact, Dany is shaking is head.
16.58 Viviane Reding, the EU’s justice commissioner who is known for her sometimes bombastic comments, has taken a fairly restrained tone in summing up the debate. “The ball is in the court of the Hungarian government. Rapid changes would be in the interest of Hungarian citizens and the European Union,” Reding said, urging the parties to get down to “brass tacks and solve these problems.”
16.46 As the debate goes on, it’s becoming clear the centre-left parties are trying to use Orban’s unpopularity outside of Hungary to tarnish the European People’s Party, the centre-right party grouping that Orban’s Fidesz belongs to. Here’s a tweet from the main centre-left party, the Socialists & Democrats group. For the uninitiated, “EC” refers to the European Commission.
EC has not named all the problematic laws, says S&D MEP. #EU Conservatives governments don’t dare to criticise #Orban #Hungary

http://blogs.ft.com/brusselsblog/2012/01/live-blog-viktor-orban-at-the-eu-parliament/#ixzz1kEOD22RF
16.35 Kester Eddy,
the FT’s correspondent in Budapest, has been talking to Hungarians as the Orban debate has been going on and, in a very unscientific cross-section, is finding very little interest in the proceedings. Still, having done much his survey on the traditionally lefty Pest side of the Danube, there’s plenty of criticism of Orban’s government:
Still Zoli, a 28-year old maintenance worker from outside the southern city of Szeged, said he was supportive of Brussels’ legal action against Orban’s government.
“I’m with the EU on this one,” Zoli said. “It’s quite right that they have go at the government. They definitely need checking out.”
On the other side of the Danube, Kazmir Varga, a retired property developer, waiting for his train to Veszprem, was more sympathetic to Orban.
“In my opinion [what the government is doing] is justified; it doesn’t harm anyone,” he said. “The EU can criticise, that’s allowed. It’s another question that the prime minister and the central bank governor don’t get on well. But the prime minister leads the country, not the central bank.”
16.15 We have gotten our hands on the letter Orban sent this morning to Barroso. To say it is conciliatory would be an understatement. It starts out full of praise for the Commission and promises to take the requests to change three Hungarian laws seriously:
“We have immediately started with our thorough analysis of all the points raised. In this context, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the European Commission and to you personally that you have decided to seek a legal solution to this very complex matter. I can guarantee that my government and I will do everything that is necessary in order to settle these questions in a satisfactory manner and as fast as possible.”
Orban goes on to stress the same point he made in his address to the parliament: he believes most the changes the Commission are requesting are technical in nature and could be easily fixed:
He says: “It is my assessment that regarding the overwhelming majority of the points raised by the Commission, we will be able to rapidly resolve the problem…. [C]oncerning the remaining issues, we also fully share the principles articulated by the Commission, notably the independence of the Central Bank, the Judiciary and the Data Protection Agency; nevertheless, we might need further technical consultations in the coming days in order to clarify certain issues.” V.O.

15.57 Andrew Duff, a British Liberal Democrat MEP, is tweeting the Orban debate. He thinks that Cohn-Bendit’s comparing Orban to Chavez and Castro was unfair.
#Cohn-Bendit comparing #Orbàn to #Chavez goes a bit far, however.
January 18, 2012 3:00 pm via Twitter for iPadReplyRetweetFavorite

@Andrew_Duff_MEP
Andrew Duff MEP
15.38 The chair has just announced there are 15 more parliamentarians who have lined up to speak.
Nominally, they are given a minute or two apiece, but most go over their time, so it could be a while until Orban speaks again.
15.32 Stan in Strasbourg has an update on whether Orban will speak again:
It seems Orban is going to be allowed to make some closing remarks, according to diplomats, though nothing is confirmed as of yet.
Last year, at a similar address at the parliament, it was in latter comments that Orban’s irritation become increasingly visible. If he was advised to keep his emotions in check this time, he has kept to it. He has sat through the criticism that has been heaped on his government with little expression so far.
Barroso is also patiently sitting through the backbenchers, though the chamber itself is less than a quarter full.
15.24 The debate has now shifted from the European parliament’s major party leaders to the backbenchers. Stan in Strasbourg says it’s still unclear whether Orban will be given the opportunity to respond to the criticism at the end of this round of statements. In the meantime, the European Commission has released a copy of Barroso’s speech here.
15.15 In defence of Orban, Jozsef Szajer, an MEP from Orban’s Fidesz party and the main author of the new Hungarian constitution, takes the floor. He starts by taking offense at Cohn-Bendit’s implication that Orban has supported politicians with anti-Semitic pasts. “Jews are not afraid in Hungary,” Szajer said. “I don’t think you know us.”
15.01 Next up is an impassioned Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the French Green once known as “Dany le Rouge” during his 1960s student protester days. He has just said Orban is headed down the path of Castro, Chavez “and all of those authoritarians and totalitarian governments that we fought with you.” He rejected Orban’s argument that he was merely changing a Stalinist-era constitution, saying, “we must be mad…how did [we] admit a country into the Union with a Stalinist constitution?” He acknowledged Orban had a 2/3 majority in parliament, allowing him to pass through any laws he wanted, but added: “The minority of Hungary has the right not to live in fear, Mr Orban.”

Guy Verhofstadt, head of the Liberals
14.56 Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian prime minister who heads the parliament’s centrist Liberals, is chastising Barroso for not going far enough. “Let’s be clear Mr Barroso, there is more at stake,” Verhofstadt said. He called on the European parliament to take further steps — a clear reference to taking action to strip Hungary of its voting rights in Brussels. He then turns to Orban: “To say there is no problem in Hungary today, I am astonished at that.” After praising Orban’s history as an anti-Soviet dissident, he added, “I’m afraid you’re on the wrong path. Verhofstadt has gone long, and is now getting cut off by Schulz.
14.47 The fireworks begin. Hannes Swoboda, a centre-left parliamentarian from Austria, lectures Orban on the need for him to obey European values. “You are undermining the freedoms you fought so hard far,” he told Orban, as the Hungarian prime minister sat without any facial reaction. “You have to make sure Hungary lives up to the criteria” that new applicants to the EU have to, he added.
14.33 Orban has already wrapped up his opening remarks and MEPs are now getting their turn. Unlike last year, Orban was humble and deferential to the parliament. All the new laws and the new constitution are “based on European principles and values.” He also said the country was “on the brink of collapse” when he came into power, justifying dramatic changes.
14.40 As his government has since the beginning of the controversy, Orban argues the challenges from the European Commission are only technical in nature. “The problems that have been raised by the commission could easily be resolved,” he said. “There’s not a single objection that has to do with the Hungarian constitution.”
14.37 Orban begins. “Allow me to say first of all…what is happening in our country is an exciting process of renewal.”
14.30 Barroso is largely repeating his announcement from yesterday, where the Commission announced legal proceedings against three Hungarian laws passed last month. Our story is here, and the Commission’s announcement is here. “We will not hesitate to take futher steps if deemed appropriate,” Barroso said. Such moves are dependent on how Orban responds, he added. “We don’t want a shadow of a doubt on the democracy of any of our member states.”
14.28 Wammen was short and sweet. Next up: Barroso. “We have to be clear on values,” he begins. Orban will follow Barroso.
14.26 Stan in Strasbourg reports that Orban has entered the chamber.
14.24 The debate is started by Nicolai Wammen, the European minister for Denmark, holder of the EU’s 6-month rotating presidency. “All EU member states must comply with the rules of the treaty,” says Wammen.
14.22 Shulz finally announces the start of the Hungarian debate.

Martin Schulz, the German social democrat and new president of the European parliament
14:17 Although Orban’s address was supposed to begin at the top of the hour, parliamentarians are still struggling to get through administrative matters — namely the election of “quaestors”, MEPs who look after the financial and administrative issues in the parliament. It’s going rather slowly. Technical experts are being called into assist with the electronic voting system. “Are your voting machines working?” asks Schulz? “They’re not?”
José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, is sitting by looking bemused, but so far no sign of Orban.
14:10 Stan in Strasbourg reports:
The Hungarians still don’t know if Orban will only be able to give a speech, or will given the opportunity to react to the political statements from European parliamentarians made after his speech. “This is 50-50,” says a Hungarian official.
14:06 German Martin Schulz, the centre-left MEP who was elected the new president of the European parliament, has just called the chamber back into session. Starting off with administrative matters.
14.04 Stan Pignal in Strasbourg reports that if Orban is looking for friends, he may find them in other new member states of central and eastern Europe, who either fear they may be next in the firing line after Hungary, or actually appreciate Orban’s fighting style.
One issue of most concern to the new member states is the growing sentiment in the European parliament of invoking so-called “Article 7” of the EU treaties, which would allow the EU to strip Hungary’s voting rights in Brussels for violating European values. The article was adopted after Austria allowed a far-right party into its governing coalition in 2000.
As an example of the support from other new member states, Stan points to a resolution introduced – but not passed – in the Lithuanian parliament yesterday that essentially tells the EU to butt out of Hungary’s business:
[T]he process of the European integration cannot invade the foundation of the national state but it has to encourage the understanding and respect for each other among nations and cultures and to help them to reach welfare, instead of enforcing unacceptable and alien [principles]…. The Government of the Republic of Lithuania [should] strictly disapprove the initiatives of supranational institutions of the European Union or separate EU member states to restrict the sovereignty of the Hungarian nation to stick to those social norms and practices of the Western states, which look valuable for them and to reject those, which are unacceptable for autonomous EU member-state.
13.59 For those looking for information on how to watch the debate online, the European parliament’s press service provides this tweet:
#EP debates political developments in Hungary with Orbán, Barroso, Danish EU Minister Wammen at 3pm, live here: http://t.co/vgADW8G3
January 18, 2012 9:45 am via webReplyRetweetFavorite

@EuroParlPress
EP PressService
13.56 If you haven’t read it yet, take a look at fellow Brussels Blogger Josh Chaffin’s post on actions taken this morning by the European Commission seeking more information on moves by Orban’s government to withhold licenses for an opposition radio station.
Neil Buckley, the FT’s eastern Europe editor, notes that the new EU concerns that Orban is seeking to muffle critical media could undermine the government’s recent argument that last year’s controversy over Hungary’s new media law was much ado about nothing and is now water under the bridge.
Kester Eddy, our man in Budapest, also points out that the Hungarian opposition has been fuming about the EU’s handing of the media law for months, saying Brussels allowed Orban to continue on with only cosmetic changes to the law. Commission officials have noted they are limited in what they can do, however. EU legislation gives Brussels only limited powers to force national governments to change domestic laws.
13.50 Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU Commissioner in charge of home affairs, appears to be in Strasbourg preparing for the Orban debate, according to her Twitter acocunt:
Hungarian PM Orban will soon speak in EP debate at his own request. Can be an interesting debate/CM
January 18, 2012 1:43 pm via Twitter for iPhoneReplyRetweetFavorite

@MalmstromEU
Cecilia Malmström

Hungary’s EU minister Eniko Gyori
13.45 Stan Pignal reports that Strasbourg has been a hive of activity ahead of this afternoon’s debate, which starts at 3pm local time. Eniko Gyori, Hungary’s EU minister, briefed reporters this morning with a conciliatory tone, downplaying the differences in opinion between Brussels and Budapest.
She said that the legal actions launched by the European Commission yesterday against three Hungarian laws passed with a new Hungarian constitution in December were “extremely ordinary”, the kind brought against other countries with regularity.
“After reading [the letters] carefully, we do not see difficulty in complying,” Gyori said. Some of the outstanding issues will be released in a matter of days, she insisted, others clearly will take longer.
Gyori also warned that if anyone was to gain from the hard-line stance taken in Brussels it would be Jobbik, the xenophobic far-right Hungarian party, which has seen its support surge in recent months.
“Who takes benefit from the current situation? It is Jobbik,” she said. “The more you criticise the country based on allegations and not on facts, the more [they benefit]. I do not want public opinion in Hungary to be pushed closer to the extreme right.”
József Szájer, a European parliamentarian from Orban’s centre-right Fidesz party who helped draft the new Hungarian constitution, blamed the crisis in part on the notoriously complex Hungarian language, which he claimed had resulted in cultural crossed wires. With relatively few Hungarians fluent in foreign languages, the media has been spoon-fed by a limited number of sources, he surmised.
But he too appeared relaxed about the mounting confrontation with Brussels, claiming that some tension was inevitable considering the scale of change being undertaken by the new government. “This is nothing else than the rebuilding of the state,” he said.
Tags: Hungary, Viktor Orban

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@MalmstromEU
Cecilia Malmström

Hungary’s EU minister Eniko Gyori

13.45 Stan Pignal reports that Strasbourg has been a hive of activity ahead of this afternoon’s debate, which starts at 3pm local time. Eniko Gyori, Hungary’s EU minister, briefed reporters this morning with a conciliatory tone, downplaying the differences in opinion between Brussels and Budapest.
She said that the legal actions launched by the European Commission yesterday against three Hungarian laws passed with a new Hungarian constitution in December were “extremely ordinary”, the kind brought against other countries with regularity.
“After reading [the letters] carefully, we do not see difficulty in complying,” Gyori said. Some of the outstanding issues will be released in a matter of days, she insisted, others clearly will take longer.
Gyori also warned that if anyone was to gain from the hard-line stance taken in Brussels it would be Jobbik, the xenophobic far-right Hungarian party, which has seen its support surge in recent months.
“Who takes benefit from the current situation? It is Jobbik,” she said. “The more you criticise the country based on allegations and not on facts, the more [they benefit]. I do not want public opinion in Hungary to be pushed closer to the extreme right.”
József Szájer, a European parliamentarian from Orban’s centre-right Fidesz party who helped draft the new Hungarian constitution, blamed the crisis in part on the notoriously complex Hungarian language, which he claimed had resulted in cultural crossed wires. With relatively few Hungarians fluent in foreign languages, the media has been spoon-fed by a limited number of sources, he surmised.
But he too appeared relaxed about the mounting confrontation with Brussels, claiming that some tension was inevitable considering the scale of change being undertaken by the new government. “This is nothing else than the rebuilding of the state,” he said.

Comments:
Dr. Rivera | January 22 11:05pm | Permalink
Get him by his “goat’ got him in dirty dealing, you want him to act the right wa, so they are doing it politely, requested him to straighten out his act; it means he will be suspende from the EU, and the nation will turn on him; he is now on watch notice, he is under scrutiny!
http://olgaandrassy.blogspot.com I hope he goes along with the EU requirements! Dr Lazin & Dr Rivera
http://blogs.ft.com/brusselsblog/2012/01/live-blog-viktor-orban-at-the-eu-parliament/#axzz1kENMTpDO

—— Jobbik, Fidesz, etc.

About Drolgalazin

Dr Olga Lazin is a UCLA graduate in History. American Constitutional and Globalization.She is a published author, and History Lecturer at UCLA. You can access and download her books at: http://www.olgalazin.com In Hard copy: Globalization is Decentralized: Easter Europe and Latin America Compared, Civic And Civil Society, Foundations And U.S. Philanthropy, published 2016 Author HOUSE, USA. She has been teaching History at UCLA, Cal State University Dominguez Hills, Cal State University Long Beach, as well as University of Guadalajara (UDG) and University of Quintana Roo, in Mexico for over 26 years. Her specialty is History of Food, Globalization of technology, food History, and the American Constitution. As a hobby, she is practicing permaculture. Her radio show is accessible 24 hours a day at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/dr_olga_lazin FACEBOOK: OLGA LAZIN DROlga Lazin Twitter; @olgamlazin Instagram; #lazinolga E-mail; olazin@ucla.edu
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