Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has called on European Commissioner Vera Jourova to step down due to her allegedly defamatory statements against Hungary.
Jourová angered Orbán with comments in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, where she spoke, among other things, about the “sick” Hungarian democracy and the situation of the local media. The EC stated that Jourová still had the full confidence of her boss Ursula von der Leyen, and the Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček also spoke as Commissioner.
The interview with Jour was published in Der Spiegel on 26 September in connection with the forthcoming publication of an annual report in which the commission will assess the rule of law in all EU countries. Jourová is due to present the report on Wednesday.
“Mr. Orbán likes to say that he is building an illiberal democracy. I would say that he is creating a sick democracy. There is hardly any criticism of the government in the Hungarian media, so the vast majority of Hungarians are probably no longer in a position to form a free opinion. that the people of Hungary might one day find out that their last elections were the last free, “the EU politician told reporters.
The Hungarian Prime Minister addressed a critical letter to von der Leyen about the interview content, writing that such statements contradicted the commission’s role as a neutral and objective institution, violated the principles of cooperation, and prevented any meaningful future dialogue between Hungary and the EC Vice-President.
“These statements are not only a direct political attack on the democratically elected Hungarian government, which are becoming commonplace but also a humiliation of Hungary and the Hungarian people. The first is inappropriate, the second unacceptable,” Orbán wrote. “The statements of the Vice-President Věra Jourová are incompatible with her current mandate, and therefore her resignation is necessary. In the meantime, the Hungarian government is interrupting all political relations with her,” he added. Already on Monday, the Hungarian Minister of Justice Judit Vargová called for Jourová to resign.
An EC spokeswoman said today that Jourová still has the full confidence of the head of the commission. However, she refused to answer whether von der Leyen agreed with how the Czech Republic described the situation in Hungary. Jourová herself declined to comment on Orbán’s letter.
Jourová was supported, among others, by the head of Czech diplomacy Petříček and most of the heads of parliamentary parties.
“Věra Jourová is doing her job and doing it well. The EU’s governance of the rule of law is nothing new or personal. The commission is currently assessing the state of democracy in all EU countries. So it is not an attack on Hungary,” Petříček said.
For example, the chairman of the Pirates, Ivan Bartoš, and the head of STAN, Vít Rakušan, also sided with Jourová.
According to ODS leader Petr Fiala, Jourová should be similarly brave in assessing the situation in the Czech Republic, which, according to him, is headed by a person with a wide-ranging conflict of interest. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and representatives of his government movement ANO, of which Jourová is a member, have not yet commented on Orbán’s statements.
Brussels has long blamed Budapest for weakening democratic principles in the country. The EU institutions are conducting proceedings with Hungary for breaches of European values. The commission considers it problematic to reduce media pluralism or attacks on NGOs that help refugees. Jourová has previously described developments in the field of justice and academic freedoms as dangerous.
“Our concerns about the situation in Hungary are well known and will be part of the rule of law report,” Commission spokeswoman Dana Spinant told reporters today.