On 17 May 2017, the European Parliament (hereinafter: EP) adopted a resolution condemning our country, according to which there is a clear danger of a serious violation of the values included in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (hereinafter: TEU) in Hungary, which justifies the initiation of the procedure according to Article 7(1) of TEU. In its resolution, the EP asked the Civil Rights, Home Affairs and Justice Committee (hereinafter: LIBE) to prepare a special report on the situation of the Hungarian rule of law, which Judith Sargentini was entrusted with. The final text of the so-called Sargentini report was adopted by the specialised committee on 25 June 2018, and the resulting document can still be interpreted as the Magna Charta of the European double standard. The fourth anniversary of this report provided an opportunity for Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, a member of the French Green Party, to present her proposal to the EP, which, disregarding the criterion of objectivity, takes stock of the events of the past four years in Hungary. The report tries to point out that the situation of the Hungarian rule of law has deteriorated in several areas since the Sargentini report. However, the formulated accusations are not correlated with reality.

Compared to the quasi-indictment marked by Judith Sargentini, one of the few novelties of the new proposal is the statement of “extending the state of danger for an indefinite period”, which can be refuted on the basis of Articles 3 (2) and 8 of Act XII of 2020 on the Containment of the Coronavirus in force during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Hungary. Pursuant to the cited legal provisions, the National Assembly may revoke its authorisation before the end of the state of danger, and the National Assembly decides on the termination of this law upon the end of the state of danger. In other words, the government was far from receiving unlimited and indefinite authorisation and talking about an “authorisation act” was only part of the left-liberal disparaging propaganda. In fact, the strongest power was with the parliament all along, and the executive power only had certain additional powers until the end of the state of danger, which exclusively served for more effective defence.

Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield made an absurd statement even for her own political community, namely that the Central European Press and Media Foundation (KESMA), which includes several media outlets, has narrowed the scope of the independent press and citizens’ access to objective information. Even within the liberal worldview, the person who believes that the simultaneous presence of hundreds of media outlets narrows the scope of independent media and hinders people’s right to information, represents the radical wing. Actually, the only thing the international left is unwilling to accept is that there are still countries in Europe where there really is freedom of the press, and people are not only reached by an ideologically oriented opinion. In the set of concepts of open societies, the terms “left” and “independent” are used as equivalent terms in the relationship between the media and non-governmental organisations, and since the situation of the press in Hungary is characterised by healthy pluralism, the followers of extreme ideologies are unable to interpret the state of media in Hungary in accordance with reality. Freedom of expression, which includes freedom of speech and the press as part of first-generation fundamental rights, is declared by Article IX (1)-(2) of the Fundamental Law of Hungary, stating that everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression, and that Hungary shall recognise and protect the freedom and diversity of the press, and shall ensure the conditions for the free dissemination of information necessary for the formation of democratic public opinion. In Hungary, freedom of the press and the basic rules of media content are provided for by specific legislation (Smtv.), Article 4 (2) of which states that freedom of the press also extends to independence from the state and any organisation and interest group.

The recent report complains that laws and amendments to the Fundamental Law, according to the rapporteur, are adopted without prior public consultation, and that the parliamentary elections in April were not held under level playing field. Both statements show signs of strong cognitive dissonance. The government regularly conducts a national consultation before significant regulations, which is attended by millions and attacked only by those who miss a “preliminary public consultation”. Until 3 April 2022, all that could be heard from the left was that, predestining their election victory, they would replace the government and adopt a constitution by simple majority, which not even moderately meets the expectations of the rule of law. After the elections, the opposition’s communication took a sharp turn, and the recurrent motif of a certain victory was replaced by a “sloping path for Fidesz” and “pre-rigged election”.

Within a month of the April elections, in accordance with Article 7 (1) of the Treaty on European Union, the Green Party MEP submitted a draft interim report (hereinafter: interim report) on the proposal for the Council decision on the establishment of a clear danger of a serious violation of the basic values of the EU by Hungary (C9-0000/2022 – 2018/0902R(NLE)), in which she asked to financially and morally condemn our country because, in her opinion, human rights are being violated in Hungary, and since 2018 the situation in this area has further deteriorated. The interim report makes the same, almost clichéd, accusations against Hungary that can easily be refuted by legislation and jurisprudence, namely that there is high-level corruption, there are serious anomalies in the functioning of the constitutional and electoral systems, and the freedom of expression, scientific life and religion is not enforced. For a rejoinder to these claims, it is enough to look only to our national constitution, which provides citizens with much more effective protection than many Western constitutions.

Article VII of the Fundamental Law provides for freedom of religion, pursuant to Paragraph (1) of which everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. Paragraph (3) declares secularisation and the independence of religious communities. Act CCVI of 2011 on the right to freedom of conscience and religion and the legal status of churches, denominations, and religious communities (hereinafter: Ehtv.) states that the religious communities operating in Hungary are a value-carrying and community-creating factor of outstanding importance to society. According to Article 9/G of Ehtv., established churches enjoy the rights and are subject to the obligations defined in this law in the same way, thus the state does not prioritise religious communities. In Hungary, because the government said no to illegal migration, everyone can freely practice their religion, while in the West, where immigrants flood some city districts, Christian, but mainly Jewish, communities are exposed to constant persecution, mental and physical humiliation.

Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield criticises the election of the President of the Curia, the supreme judicial organ, but its validity leaves something to be desired. Article 1 (2) e) of the Fundamental Law states that the President of the Curia is elected by the National Assembly, Hungary’s highest representative body, so András Zs. Varga’s indirect popular legitimacy is indisputable. The professional competence of the President of the Curia is also unquestionable: he has been teaching for twenty-seven years, he was a dean and now is a vice-dean, has been a member of the public body of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences since 2004, and he became a member of the Venice Commission in October 2013 and in 2019 he was elected Vice-Chairman of the Venice Commission’s subcommittee for constitutional law. The Venice Commission, active in constitutional issues, is an advisory body of the Council of Europe. Since its establishment in 1990, the Commission has played a leading role in the adoption of constitutions that conform to traditional European constitutional standards. András Zs. Varga, a former Constitutional Court judge, does not make his decisions on a political but on a professional basis. However, the left’s problem with him is that his judgments do not reflect any left-liberal leaning, and for this reason he is stigmatised as being far-right and pro-government, just as George Soros did to the members of the Supreme Court of the United States of America for overriding the practice laid down by the Roe v Wade case.

The presence of high-level corruption in Hungary is the most common and one of the most unfounded accusations by the left-liberal side against our country. This alleged fact would have been valid in the years before 2010, but these attacks have intensified since 2015, when the measures for eliminating the underground economy and the steps taken to curb corruption showed their effect. The new Criminal Code, which was adopted by the National Assembly with Fidesz-KDNP majority, introduced the collective concept of corruption offences. This group of crimes was regulated by Act IV of 1978 the Criminal Code (old Criminal Code) as crimes against the integrity of public life. Section 300 of the new Criminal Code also qualifies the failure to report a crime of corruption as a crime punishable by imprisonment not exceeding two years, thus keeping officials away from not reporting to the authority as soon as they have the opportunity that a not yet revealed crime of corruption has been committed, provided that they have acquired reliable knowledge thereof in their capacity. While according to Section 258/H of the old Criminal Code the period within which prosecution is time-barred upon the lapse of at least five years in the case of these crimes, pursuant to Section 26 (2) of the new Criminal Code, the prosecution of a crime of corruption is time-barred upon the lapse of twelve years. Regarding the relationship between the Orbán government and corruption, it is important to highlight that it was the members of the same political community that held the executive power in 1999, when our country joined the Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), with which it still cooperates. Then, in addition to the introduction and tightening of criminal sanctions, the national civil governments after 2010 implemented comprehensive anti-corruption measures and launched a National Anti-Corruption Program (NCP), the first in 2015 (Government decision 1336/2015 [V. 27.] on the adoption of the plan for the National Anti-Corruption Program and related measures for 2015-2016). Currently, the medium-term National Anti-Corruption Strategy for the period of 2020-2022 is being implemented (Government decision 1328/2020 [VI. 19.] on the adoption of the medium-term National Anti-Corruption Strategy for the period of 2020-2022 and the related action plan), in which the government defines the anti-corruption strategic goals until 2022 and the areas of intervention.

Hungary also performs well at the European level and cooperates extremely well with international organisations in combating corruption. The Hungarian Prosecution Service brought charges in 45 percent of the cases initiated by the Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) between 2012 and 2018 (the EU average at that time was 36 percent), while it was 21 percent in Germany, 25 percent in France, and 30 percent in Romania. In 2020, charges were brought in two-thirds of the cases investigated by the Hungarian authorities, a rate considered exceptionally high, as the European Union average was 37 percent that year. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) praised the organisational integration, the district office system, and the creation of the one-stop-shop network in Hungary. Furthermore, in its publication Education for Integrity, it cites Hungary as a good example twice, given that gaining anti-corruption knowledge in public education is emphasised.

The fact of who is unfoundedly attacking Hungary cannot be ignored. Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield replaced the anti-Hungarian Judith Sargentini in the LIBE Committee in 2019. The French-born Green Party Vice-President was the head of the LIBE delegation with a strong left-wing majority that visited Hungary in the autumn of 2021. Regarding the Child Protection Act, the representative requested the suspension of Hungary’s right to vote in the EU, and last September, at the LIBE Committee meeting, she demanded that the recovery plan for the spending of the EU funds provided by the recovery fund be examined a hundred times more in the case of Hungary than other Member States before approval. The distribution of migrants is also among the proposals of Delbos-Corfield’s party, thus it is clear that the political creed of Sargentini’s successor does not match that of the Hungarian national civil government at all.