Viktor Orban left a fierce EU summit at 2 am on Friday, and other European leaders’ speeches on the meaning of Christianity rang in his ears.
This self-proclaimed European standard-bearer of “non-liberal democracy” and traditional Christian values suffered two hours of condemnation for his government banning the depiction or promotion of LGBTI+ people in schools and the media.
“If you really believe in God, you must be tolerant,” Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins told Hungarian leaderAccording to diplomats familiar with the discussion. Officials said that committee chair Ursula von der Lein and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi also criticized Orban’s legislation as violating Christian morality.
Diplomats described how EU leaders tore apart the Hungarian prime minister in a drastic way rarely seen in European Council meetings, where the president and prime minister usually avoid individualizing their disputes.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who led the charge, even asked Orban to consider triggering the Article 50 withdrawal procedure to leave the European Union if he is unwilling to repeal the legislation.
It is as if Orbán’s pent-up anger for ignoring the rule of law, media freedom and minority rights erupted. Over the years, he escaped condemnation with the support of the center-right European People’s Party and its leader, Angela, Germany. Merkel. But this support has now disappeared, and Merkel stands with other critics.
“This could really be a turning point,” said Klara Dobrev, a Hungarian opposition member of the European Parliament, adding that Budapest and Brussels are now in confrontation.
In strong opposition to the bill, several EU leaders stated that the bill equates homosexuality with a sexual crime against children, which seems to be detrimental to Orban, who has provoked disputes with Brussels for many years. At the end of the discussion, he complained of being “attacked” from all sides and asked his leading colleagues to consider their feelings.
Personal attachment to gay rights can explain the reaction of some EU leaders. Rutte told the Financial Times that Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel told the touching story of his struggle to be accepted as a homosexual, “making many people burst into tears.” Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin (Sanna Marin), the daughter of a gay couple, described the debate as “painful”.
“This is for individuals,” a diplomat said.
French President Emmanuel Macron stated that this dispute raises a “survival issue of Europeans” for Orbán or his allies in Poland and Slovenia, and Poland and Slovenia are the only ones who have united to defend him. country.
Macron said: “Today, our people support elected leaders. They are making decisions that violate basic European values.” “This is not a small problem.”
Peter Kreko, director of the Institute of Political Capital, a research institution in Budapest, said that Orban wanted to have a dispute with Brussels to divert attention from an unpopular project. Fudan University, Budapest, China.
Kreko said Orban also hopes to split the opposition party that has vowed to establish a united front against the prime minister’s Al-Shabaab in next year’s parliamentary elections. Jobick, a far-right party allied with the opposition, supports the gay amendment.
“Viktor Orban wants to fight the battle of Brussels Instead of fighting Fudan,” Kreko said. “The government’s Euroscepticism has escalated to another level. “
In recent weeks, the Hungarian leader has strengthened his anti-Brussels rhetoric, especially in a speech last weekend in which he called for the abolition of the directly elected European Parliament and warned that the European Union is becoming an “empire” of the Soviet Union. Opponents of Orban say he put Hungary’s membership in the European Union at risk.
Agoston Mroz, chief executive of Nezopont, a research institute close to Fidesz, said that Orbán wanted to get Hungary out of the EU is nonsense.
“It’s about membership and his vision for the National League,” he said, noting that Orban wanted to create a The new political family of nationalist parties After Fidesz was kicked out of EPP earlier this year.
“He needs to create a new platform and differentiate,” Mroz said.
At the same time, Brussels seems ready to take legal action. European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders stated that Hungarian law “clearly violates” basic values, but Brussels needs to prove that it violated certain EU laws, such as audio-visual or e-commerce legislation.
“When you see this, it’s not so obvious,” Reendez said.
The Hungarian government stated that the law is not discriminatory because it also prohibits general sexually-promoting materials directed at children. This legal battle may be protracted, just adding it to the list of other Hungarian violations of academic freedom, NGOs, and immigration that the European Union is pursuing.
At the same time, Orban’s opponents hope that EU financial leverage will allow him to agree. The committee will sign Hungary’s plan to spend 7 billion euros from the EU Recovery Fund next week. Because Hungary has repeatedly violated EU values, members of the European Parliament organized by the centrist Renew Europe requested that its approval be suspended.
Brussels is unlikely to acquiesce, but if Hungary does not fulfill its economic reform commitments, it can suspend payments. The committee also has new powers under the so-called rule of law regime, allowing it to suspend funding when it believes that the rule of law in Hungary is threatened.
A diplomat said: “The real struggle will be whether we can use this process to put pressure on him.”
Hungarian Ministry of Environmental Protection Dobrev stated that these safeguards will inevitably be deployed to the Orban government, thereby increasing the risk of confrontation. “Next year, his campaign slogan will be’Orban in Hungary or Europe?'” Dobrev said. “What else can he do?”