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Berlin blasts Hungary for new constitution

BUDAPEST, Hungary, April 19 (UPI) -- Germany has warned that Hungary's newly adopted constitution, which is highly controversial at home, may run against EU values.

"We are observing the developments in Hungary with great attention and not without concern," German Deputy Foreign Minister Werner Hoyer said in a statement.

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He criticized the media law adopted by Hungary's Parliament at the start of the year as showing "an attitude toward fundamental rights, which -- despite some amendments -- is hardly compatible with European Union values."

"Our worries over the media law are made worse, not better, by the adoption of the constitution and its future implementation," Hoyer added.

RELATED Hungary approves new constitution

The Hungarian government has strongly rejected the criticism, saying Germany shouldn't meddle with Hungary's internal affairs.

Hungarian lawmakers Monday voted in favor of a new constitution that the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban says will end the country's transition from a totalitarian to a democratic system.

However, most opposition lawmakers walked out of the Parliament chamber before voting began in a bid to protest what they see as a gradual undermining of the country's democratic principles. The constitution, they say, was rushed through Parliament to undermine a clear analysis of what it really means.

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They didn't have a chance of blocking the bill anyway: The ruling center-right Fidesz party, which has enacted several sweeping changes since coming to power last year, enjoys a two-thirds majority in Parliament that can pass any legislation.

Fidesz lawmakers greeted the adoption of the new constitution with applause and by singing the national anthem, the BBC reports. It limits the size of debt a government can make, stresses Hungary's Christian roots and curtails the authority of the constitutional court. Other sections hold the potential to outlaw abortion and hand voting rights to ethnic Hungarians living in foreign countries, critics say.

The Fidesz government shocked observers across Europe when it introduced a law that many say curtails press freedom. It amended it to account for EU criticism. Other measures taken by the government included a so-called crisis tax, imposed on the telecommunications, retail and energy sectors, which infuriated large Western companies.

Orban became prime minister last April after his Fidesz party won the elections in a landslide. He has since embarked on a sort of "conservative revolution" that is aimed at restoring the economic and political clout of Hungary, a nation of 10 million that has been plagued with a recession and a budget crisis.

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