Defending Viktor Orban: Austrian Far Right during EU’s Hungarian Presidency

Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) has called on its government to defend Hungary after MEPs questioned Hungary’s ability to hold the rotating presidency of the EU Council in the second quarter 2024.

On Thursday (June 1), the European Parliament questioned Hungary’s ability to take over the rotating EU Council presidency in the second half of next year, citing rule of law concerns and deterioration of democracy.

For the FPÖ, however, Hungary has been a victim of “the EU establishment”.

“This is a cowardly and unfair attack by the EU establishment against an embarrassing member state that does not say ‘yes and amen’ to anything that comes from Brussels and that the prime minister cares about above all else. of the well-being of its own people,” Herbert Kickl, the leader of the FPÖ, said in a statement.

“I expect the Austrian federal government to take the initiative at all possible levels to protect our neighboring country from the EU,” he added.

The far-right party, which was ousted from government in 2019 due to one of the biggest corruption scandals in Austrian history, the “Ibiza” affair, is currently the most powerful party in Austria. Austria with an average of 27% in the polls, compared to 16% in the last elections in 2019.

Mr. Kickl has since proclaimed himself “people’s chancellor” and publicly announced his plans for the chancellery after the next Austrian general election in 2024.

The party has forged a strong relationship with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. In May, Mr. Kickl called on Austria to “follow Mr. Orbán’s example”. “ Let’s build fortress Austria ”, he said then.

When Mr. Kickl visited Mr. Orban in Budapest a week later, he called Hungary “a haven of national self-determination and resistance to the globalist grip of Brussels”.

The “ responsibility ” of the German government

Meanwhile, Germany’s ruling Greens have called for Hungary’s EU Council presidency to be postponed.

“A member state like Hungary, which deliberately undermines EU values and institutions, cannot preside over EU legislation for six months,” Chantal Kopf, the Greens’ speaker on EU issues, told EURACTIV. thus reflecting the Greens’ support for the resolution.

“It is the responsibility of the German government to check to what extent Hungary can meet the demands of the Council Presidency. If she [is not able to do so], we must consider postponing the Hungarian presidency,” she added.

Germany has already questioned Hungary’s ability to preside over the Council ahead of the European Parliament’s vote, with Green Minister for Europe and Climate Anna Lührmann having already expressed her concerns ahead of the Parliament’s vote, beginning of the week.

“I doubt Hungary will manage to oversee a successful presidency,” she told reporters ahead of a meeting of the General Affairs Council.

The German government has emerged as one of the most vocal critics of Hungary’s violations of the rule of law. The European Commission received much praise from the German government when it froze some €22 billion earmarked for Hungary in December, when German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called the move a ” very good “.

“ It is about our values, the rule of law throughout the European Union ”, declared the environmental minister at the time.

Germany’s crackdown on rule of law violations within the Union was also enshrined in the coalition agreement, where the three-party coalition government encouraged the European Commission to take a tougher stance on countries that undermine the rule of law.

This article is originally published on euractiv.fr

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