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2020.04.03 09:39

Lithuanian conservatives join call to expel Hungary's Fidesz from EPP

Vaidotas Beniušis, BNS2020.04.03 09:39

Thirteen parties from 11 European countries, including Lithuania's Homeland Union, demanded on Thursday that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz be expelled from the EPP group in the European Parliament.

Orban's government was granted indefinite extraordinary powers on Monday, raising concerns about undemocratic rule in Hungary. Orban says he needs more powers to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

Read more: How much will coronavirus hurt European democracy?

Gabrielius Landsbergis, the leader of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats, co-signed a letter saying that Hungary's new law on the state of emergency “is a clear violation of the founding principles of liberal democracy and European values”.

The letter was also signed by conservative leaders from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia and Sweden.

“The fight against Covid-19 requires extensive measures, however the virus cannot be used as a pretext to extend the state of emergency indefinitely. We fear that Prime Minister Orban will use his newly achieved power to further extend the government’s grip on civil society,” the letter to Donald Tusk, the president of the conservative European People’s Party (EPP), reads.

“The EPP has a commitment to safeguard liberal democracy, the indisputable right of the individual and the rule of law, which are fundamental principles, upon which not only our political family, but indeed the European Union is founded,” the letter states.

“We have followed the degradation of the Hungarian rule of law for some time. Fidesz is currently suspended from the EPP due to its failure to respect the principle of rule of law. However, the recent developments have confirmed our conviction that Fidesz, with its current policies, cannot enjoy full membership in the EPP,” the letter reads.

The centre-right leaders also expressed their “support for the European Commission and call on joint action by the Member States to address the situation in Hungary forcefully”.

However, Germany's Christian Democratic Union, lead by Chancellor Angela Merkel, did not sign the letter.

Supporters of Orban's party say its expulsion would only boost the eurosceptic camp.

Read more: Losing liberty for coronavirus security – opinion