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Hungary's Viktor Orban accuses European Union of 'abuse of power'

Hungary's Viktor Orban accuses European Union of 'abuse of power'

Prime Minister Viktor Orban, as expected, claimed during the debate in Strasbourg, France, that Hungary was being attacked for its tough anti-immigration stance.

Measures could include suspension of the country's voting rights in Europe.

It's the first time Article 7 has been triggered against a member state, just the start of a long process which could lead to Hungary's voting rights being suspended.

In a bitter debate the night before MEPs are scheduled to vote on the introduction of sanctions against Budapest, a report by Greens MEP Judith Sargentini " s that was presented to the lawmakers detailed how Orban "s government has "effectively silenced" the independent media in Hungary and put academia and members of the opposition "on a leash".

"It is a positive sign of this parliament taking responsibility and wanting action", Sargentini told a press conference afterwards.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee, which offers legal aid to asylum seekers and refugees and has been a frequent target of Orban's criticism, said that the EU vote "has made it clear that illiberal democracy is against the core values of the European Union".

Her report voices concerns about the Hungarian judiciary's independence, corruption, freedom of expression, academic freedom, religious freedom, and the rights of minorities and refugees.

"Whatever your decision will be, Hungary will not accede to this blackmail", an angry Orban told the lawmakers, whom he alleged had already made up their mind to activate article seven of the European Union treaty and seek measures to restrict his government's voting rights.

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans, who has been supervising Article 7 discussions with Poland, said he shared the findings in the parliamentary report.

Mr Orban personally spoke to the parliament on Tuesday in defence of his country, labelling the threat of censure as a form of "blackmail" and an insult to Hungary.

Though defiant, he was resigned to the outcome, saying the parliament seemed to have already made up its mind.

"Hungary is going to be condemned (by this motion) because the Hungarian people have decided that their country is not going to be a country of migrants", Orban said, drawing applause from the eurosceptic, far-right lawmakers in the assembly.

The leader of the EPP Group, Manfred Weber, said Article 7 that could lead to Hungary losing its European Union voting rights should be triggered against Hungary if Orban fails to reverse course. The 12 chapters of the report condemn the disintegration of the rule-governed state and the Socialists agree with its findings concerning the administration of justice, constitutionality, and social affairs, the faction leader of the party told Hungarian media.

Nearly 450 members voted in favor of the motion, 197 voted against, and 48 abstained.

"I am in complete agreement with the result", Juncker said.

HuffPost UK has contact the Conservative group of the European Parliament to confirm the voting list and for comment, but they have not yet replied.

"In today's historic vote, the European Parliament rightly stood up for the Hungarian people and for the EU".

After the vote, Sargentini thanked her colleagues for standing up "for the protection of democracy and the rule of law, above their interest in party politics".

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