'Neo-fascist... blackmail... coward' - Europe's parliament erupts

'Neo-fascist... blackmail... coward' - Europe's parliament erupts

M - Members of the European Parliament traded verbal blows with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in a debate Tuesday over democracy and the rule of law in his country, CNN reports.

"Success! The European Parliament has set an extremely important precedent after voting in favour of Article 7 that puts in motion infringement procedures against Hungary for failing to respect fundamental EU values". The same procedure was launched by the European Commission against Poland in December 2017.

The 197 votes cast against the parliament's first bid to launch the punitive process of the EU treaty's Article 7 also highlighted the substantial minority of European opinion who see Orban as a crusader for the rights of nation states and ethnic majorities against rules of civic behavior agreed in Brussels.

"The truth is that the verdict has already been written", Orban said.

Mr Orban has for years faced global condemnation over Hungary's electoral system, media freedoms, independence of the judiciary, mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees, and limits on the functioning of non-governmental organisations.

"Whatever decision you make, Hungary will not give in to extortion, Hungary will defend its borders, will stop illegal migration and will protect its rights, if needed, from you, too".

Orban has said the mostly Muslim refugees pose an existential threat to Europe's Christian civilisation.

Asked about his expectations about the result of Wednesday's vote on the report, Orban said he was sure it would gather the two-thirds support needed for approval and then attempts would be made to expel Fidesz from the EPP.

He has also been accused of waging a state-backed anti-Semitic campaign against the Jewish businessman George Soros.

EU Parliament to Debate Possible Sanctions Against Hungary

Several European Union politicians expressed fear that the corruption, nepotism and illiberal politics they said characterised the Orban regime - including the mistreatment of asylum seekers - marked a "decisive moment" for the continent.

Italy's anti-migrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on Wednesday deplored the European Parliament's vote to punish Hungary's government led by far-right Premier Viktor Orban, calling the move "blackmail".

The EPP's leader, Manfred Weber, said he would vote in favour of the motion targeting Orban's government, whose Fidesz party belongs to his grouping.

On Tuesday Weber said the European Union might need to consider launching the sanctions procedure, under Article 7.1 of the Lisbon Treaty, if Budapest did not address the criticisms.

Also on Tuesday night Orban also faced the prospect of his party being kicked out of the right-wing party group in the European parliament.

In July, the EU executive body warned it could take Budapest before the European Court of Justice over laws which call for up to a year in prison for anyone assisting an undocumented migrant.

The motion against Orban's Hungary goes well beyond the migration issue.

Dubbed so-called "nuclear option", article 7 of the European Union treaty is a mechanism for the European Union to steer wayward members back toward the values on which the world's largest trading bloc were founded, including respect for freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

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