Hungary’s Orban wants to ‘drain the swamp’ in the European Union | Popgen Tech


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BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary’s prime minister thinks it’s time to “drain the swamp” in the European Union, he said Wednesday, something he thinks could lead to the dissolution of the bloc’s legislature.

Speaking at an annual international news conference in Budapest, Viktor Orban said a recent corruption scandal involving several members of the European Parliament called into question the credibility of the institution, and that he supported the abolition of the body as it currently exists.

“The Hungarians would like the European Parliament to be dissolved in its current form,” Orban said. “The degree to which the reputation of the European Parliament in Hungary has been damaged (by the scandal) is easy to answer: not at all, because it could not have been lower.”

The nearly three-hour news conference, which is held annually, is almost the only occasion of the year when Orban fields questions from the international media or critical Hungarian outlets.

The populist leader, who won a fourth consecutive term in office in April, has frequently fought battles with the EU, which accuses him of violating democratic norms and overseeing large-scale official corruption.

But on Wednesday, Orban blasted the European Parliament for recent revelations of a cash-for-favors corruption scandal allegedly involving Qatar, borrowing a phrase from former US President Donald Trump, saying it was time to “drain the swamp drain” in Brussels.

Wednesday’s news conference came as the EU froze more than 12 billion euros in funding to Hungary over concerns that Orban’s government has suppressed judicial independence, overseen official corruption and curtailed minority rights.

In September, the European Parliament declared that Hungary could no longer be considered a democracy, and would become “a hybrid regime of electoral autocracy” under Orban’s leadership – a charge his government rejected.

Adding to the tension between Budapest and Brussels is the Hungarian government’s lobbying against sanctions against Moscow for its war in Ukraine.

Orban – considered one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest EU allies – claims that sanctions have been ineffective in pressuring Russia to end the war, and that they have done more damage to European economies than to Russia.

“If it were up to us, there would be no sanctions policy,” Orban said on Wednesday, adding that he would not support any additional sanctions packages against Russia in the future, but would not stand in the way of the EU’s do not take

“It is not in our interest to permanently split the European and Russian economies in two, so we are trying to salvage what can be salvaged from our economic cooperation with the Russians,” he said.

Orban has made a number of concessions to secure the delivery of much-needed EU funds, but the European Commission – the bloc’s executive arm – has insisted on further reforms if Budapest is to access the money.

Hungary is struggling with one of the highest inflation rates in Europe and a currency that has skyrocketed. In November, the inflation rate was more than 22% and the forint currency was almost 10% lower against the euro since the beginning of the year.

Orban said the government had plans to reduce inflation to single digits by next December, and would soon unveil a program that would eliminate income tax up to the age of 30 for women who have children.


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