Interview With Luxembourg's Foreign Minister 'Hungary Should Have Voting Rights Withdrawn'

In a SPIEGEL interview, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn fiercely criticizes Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Parts of Hungary's new constitution resemble a dictatorship, he says, suggesting the country should be stripped of its EU voting rights for undermining core democratic freedoms.

Jean Asselborn, foreign minister and deputy prime minister of Luxembourg.

Jean Asselborn, foreign minister and deputy prime minister of Luxembourg.

SPIEGEL: The European Commission has launched legal proceedings against Hungary for breaching the European Union treaties. Is that enough?

Asselborn: I welcome the steps taken by the European Commission but that is not enough. This isn't just about individual breaches of the law but about the anti-European spirit of the policy of Prime Minister Orbán.

SPIEGEL: What are your main points of criticism?

Asselborn: Orbán has clearly breached Article 2 of the EU treaties that enshrine the democratic values of the constitutional state such as freedom and pluralism. The media have been under the control of the government for a year. Freedom of opinion has been abolished, the separation of powers is being ignored. Independent judges are being replaced by those loyal to the regime. In these points Hungary is no longer different from a dictatorship like that in Belarus.

SPIEGEL: Orbán doesn't seem too worried about that. The restriction of media freedoms has so far had no consequences.

Asselborn: That is because German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy indirectly shielded him at the time and today.

SPIEGEL: But now Orbán is ready to work together with the European Commission in examining the accusations.

Asselborn: The heads of government must not hide behind the Commission. We have to get involved and make sure that all 500 million EU citizens can live in dignity, freedom and democracy. In Hungary too.

SPIEGEL: What do you propose?

Asselborn: If the heads of government, with the approval of the European Parliament, determine that severe breaches of the basic values of the EU have taken place, the Council can withdraw the voting rights of a member state. From my point of view Orbán long ago lost the right to appear and to vote as a European.

Interview conducted by Christoph Schult


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gjphilip 01/24/2012
1. Freedom
The freedoms that are cited as lost to Hungary have been lost in Britain for some time. British public figures who do not share the faith of evolution are regularly forced from their jobs, including government and private workers. Schoolteachers there are forbidden to even discuss alternatives to the evolutionary faith. Why doesn't Christof interview someone about that? Much is made of the Hungarian President's Calvinism: why don't we recall Hitler's Atheism and evolutionary faith?
waclaw 01/24/2012
2. Asselborn to open his eyes, ears
Interesting that Mr Asselborn is so determined to help the Hungarians. Can they not choose for themselves? I would really like this great politician from Luxembourg to look at what has happened to democracy, media freedom and openness to free expression in Poland over the past few years. The lies and deceit which is a daily political diet, thrown at the Poles,emanating from the politicians in power is a suitable case for him to look at.Even a blind and deaf man can evaluate the situation if he only would wish to do so. But then Poland toes the EU policy hook line and sinker, so I doubt he will have any concerns.
andre79799 01/30/2012
3. Hungary's commie judiciary and pinko media. 1.
Hungary's pinco crypto judiciary is inherited from the old bygone communist era. New Hungary wants to retire them. The same judiciary just doesn't want to give up their privileges; they keep on enacting regulations and laws against Hungarians - even as we speak - like as if they would be hired by and working for an indestructible ghost from the past, a foreign vicious force, an enemy of Hungary; neglecting to protect the safety the well being of the majority. Conceder this example: Not too long ago the infamous red judiciary made a ruling that a 1000+ years old national traditional flag from one of the house of the early Hungarian king is deemed illegal. It's as outrageously absurd like enacting a decree in Scotland that the Scottish kilt is an illegitimate national symbol, punishable by law who dares to break the rule. Another pearl of wisdom is to deny Hungarians the right to self-defense based on the "Castel Doctrine", the principle that was handed down through the ages from antiquity, from Roman Jurisprudence and embraced in many jurisdictions. The "my home is my castle" is a widely adopted legal code against illegal break and enter. Now, without the right to self defense, a gang of thieves can break into your home in Hungary even if you are there and you are not allowed to resist. They can take your valuables, rape your wife, your daughter, your mother in front of your very eyes, and you have to seat on your hands if you are lucky enough to be able to seat because they did not beat you to an unconscious pulp. An old retired Hungarian living in the countryside grew tomatoes in his garden. Thieves were repeatedly helping themselves to his tomatoes. So the old man put up fences, but that did not stop the thieves. Finally he thought he had the solution. He connected live electricity around his treasure, put up warning signs on the outer fences. On a fateful late summer evening 3 unemployed roam going home from the tavern feeling rather self assured from the drinks consumed throughout the evening, got the brilliant idea to play a "joke" on the old guy and pay a visit to the forbidden garden. They knew electricity is switched on during the night. Nevertheless, they boldly climbed 2 outer fences, got to the tomato beds. One was electrocuted on the spot, another injured, and the third ran away for help. At the end, Hungarian jurisprudence dragged the old Hungarian through the courts like he was the guilty party while he was only protecting his own property that authorities fail to do. In other countryside, small settlements woefully short on cash are compelled to close their police stations. Taking advantage of the lax situation some roma criminals gangs break into Hungarians' houses, rob, terrorize, and abuse the old vulnerable. The old Hungarians asked and got help. A few compatriots got together and unarmed walked into these crime infested settlements to patrol and guard their defenseless neighbors. The roma got really insulted and promptly complained, the police showed up, the judiciary made another ruling that patrolling settlements is the monopoly of the state; it is illegal for civilians to continue to patrol the streets and protect the old lonely Hungarians.
andre79799 01/30/2012
4. Hungary's commie judiciary and pinko media. 2.
Denying the right to self preservation and self defense is against nature's most basic laws. Every living being from the most primitive organism to every blade of grass, and plants, to animals of all sorts have a deeply rooted encoded reflex programmed into their very being to protect themselves, their family, defend their nest, guard their territory, their kind and propagate their species. This basic universal nature's right is being denied from the Hungarians by their inherited red judiciary from the past, and echoed by the pink venom spitting factory the Hungarian hater liberal media. This is a dandy: Hungarians have never kept slaves, and slavery as such is not tolerated in any civilized society nowadays. But in the Hungarian countryside it does flourish and there is no law against it like a wise police chief remarked it. Some well to do roam crime families keep elderly helpless Hungarians as slaves. Old, lonely, desolate Hungarians are enticed to voluntarily go and live with a large roma family with promises of paradise, protection and warm family life. Once they arrive, their identity papers their bank cards are gradually taken away. They are forced to live in unsanitary unhealthy conditions locked away sometimes in pig styles. It became more profitable to keep slaves than pigs. Slaves are fed the scraps of the family table, forced to do menial labor, sometimes take part in crimes. At month end the slave keeper goes to the automatic banking machine, often with a couple of banking cards to withdraw the slaves' pensions. Slaves are bought, sold, traded like commodities. There was a remarkable case a while ago. An old Hungarian guy was kept as slave by a gypsy crime family. The old man tried to escape, but was promptly cut, and brought back by force. He had to look after horses the gypsies kept and traded. The old guy had to sleep with the horses in the stable all year around. To circumvent his escape, he was tied up to a long enough dog chain so he could work around the horses but prevented him walking out. At first the chains were on his wrist, but his skin got infected. So they moved it on to around his neck. At feeding time his chains had to be loosened up so he could swallow. A police chief in the country was asked why the police don't get involved in the slavery business. His reply was: no one comes forward to report it, and there is no law broken. No law broken, because the pinko commie judiciary looks the other way. They have rules against traditional 1000+ years old Hungarian flags, but not against slavery today in the 21-st century in the heart of Europe under the noses of EU human rights commissions and courts! There is a substantial populous minority in Hungary the roma, or gypsies as they were called before the term gypsy became politically incorrect expression. Anyway, most of the roma minority - around 10+% of the population- is unwilling and unable to switch into the modern market economy. Their traditional occupations are long ago gone with the horse and bogy. By and large they don't have the education or training or capacity or the will to partake in today's labor market. They don't send little kids even to the elementary school, although there is a cash incentive /bribe to do so.
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