Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview to commercial Hír TV last Thursday evening that he told Barroso in his reply letter that it was not possible to delay the two draft laws, because they were “important building blocks of the country’s new constitution which is to come into effect from January”. He added that neither law contained anything which the European Commission’s president had a right or capacity to criticise. The prime minister said every bill put to the Hungarian Parliament was in line with the European legal framework.
Earlier in the week, Barroso asked Orbán in a letter to withdraw the two bills, which were fast-tracked for adoption last week, and suggested this might be a precondition for talks on a pending loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union. He said neither laws complied with the EU’s basic treaty.
Orbán said Hungary did not want a loan from the IMF, it was in need of a precautionary credit line only. “We do not need money, we are not looking to take out a loan. (…) We need an agreement which allows access to a credit line in case international money markets became paralysed,” he told HírTV. He said if Hungary was to return to “be controlled by the IMF” and failed to implement its own economy policy, there would be no need for “people like us, who have national feelings.”
“This, however, is not the case at all,” he added. Orbán said he would not reshuffle his government on January 1. He said every government member’s mandate would last as long as his own, adding that the only exception would be if one of the ministers asked him to rethink whether they should continue their work.
On the subject of a recent downgrade of Hungary’s debt by Standard and Poor’s to non-investment status, Orbán said “the whole of Europe is under attack, everyone is being downgraded all the time. We soon get used to it and it loses significance.”
He added that Hungary had taken a successful path over the past 18 months.
A popular political analyst suspects that Mr Barroso’s “ultimatum” to Viktor Orbán may be part of a plan to topple the Hungarian Prime Minister. In his widely read blog, political scientist Gábor Török says Mr Orbán’s reply is a rational one, if we suppose that Hungary does not badly need a credit line from the EU and the IMF. Indeed, giving in to the demands would have caused serious political harm to a prime minter who has so defiantly compared Brussels to Moscow (in its role as capital of the Soviet Union). On the other hand, if Hungary risks insolvency without that credit line, Mr Orbán’s decision may cause him more headaches in the future than bowing to the ultimatum would now. Török raises the possibility that this was precisely what Mr Barroso intended, and this may explain why the top EU official despatched such a brisk ultimatum to Viktor Orbán, in the full expectation that he would reject it out of hand. In a comment appended to Török’s post, one reader replies that the European Union cannot intend to drive Hungary into bankruptcy simply in order to get rid of its prime minister. In such an eventuality, he suggests, scores of Austrian banks which are heavily exposed in Hungary would also collapse.
In right wing Magyar Nemzet, Matild Torkos hopes that the Hungarian government knows how far it can go in defying “the world of finance”. It has “hit the wall several times and has often been forced to retreat. By now they have perhaps gathered sufficient experience to gauge how the world of finance will react to their steps.” Torkos believes that now that Hungary’s sovereign debt has been downgraded to junk status by a second rating agency, “we are in real need of a stand-by credit, even at higher interest rates.” That being so, she does not understand, why “we bunnies had to tug at the lion’s moustache,” by introducing an “otherwise reasonable” bill on the National Bank.
Source: MTI, Budapost
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 January 2012 13:50