Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó slammed members of a European Parliament committee over their “lies and slander” after his government was accused of human rights violations.
During an assembly of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in Brussels, FM Szijjártó systematically knocked down a series of allegations made about the Orbán administration, including those which have prompted the introduction of a proposal by a Dutch MEP to level sanctions against Budapest.
“The Dutch Liberal representative woman was saying that we only temporarily represent the Hungarian people,” Szijjártó said. “I would like to point out that we just won our third consecutive term in the election, with no less than a two-thirds super-majority.”
“You ask us how we represent the Hungarian people, and what kind of authorization we have. I could also ask you what percentage of the European people voted for you, so that you could lecture the Hungarian people in the name of Europe?”
FM Szijjártó’s comments come in response to MEP Judith Sargentini of the Netherlands, who claims Hungary is guilty of a litany of transgressions that represent “a clear risk of a serious breach… of the values on which the Union is founded.”
Sargentini hopes to trigger the Article 7 ‘nuclear option,’ which could lead to a suspension of Hungary’s voting rights within the bloc.
Szijjártó also denounced the Committee’s attempts to censor any pushback against vilification and character assassination of Hungary as a whole.
“I have to draw the conclusion that in the Parliament of the European Union, if someone reviles Hungary, that is all right; if someone reviles the decision of the Hungarian people, that is all right; if the Hungarian government is defamed, that is all right; but if someone dares to talk back, that is not all right,” he asserted - before being interrupted by Committee Chair Claude Moraes, who demanded Szijjártó “use the sort of language that is respectful of the Parliament.”
“I thought freedom of speech and freedom of opinion applied to me also in this building, but if this is not the case, I can live with that,” Szijjártó fired back. “However, I maintain my opinion… that in this debate, Hungary was repeatedly slandered, and I cannot accept that if someone reacts to that, they immediately get deprecated instead of being argued with using the facts.”
Szijjártó also rejected charges that the Hungarian government is anti-Semitic, anti-democratic, and oppressive of educational institutions and NGOs.
“I would like to emphasize further that we do not accept, and will not tolerate, that lies and slander are spread here about Hungary, so our itemized, detailed rebuttals for every single accusation have been made available to you,” Szijjártó concluded.
(PHOTO: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images)