You can watch my online presentation held together with Emese Pásztor and Botond Bőtös on rule of law problems in Hungary at the invitation of Mikuláš Peksa, a Czech pirate member of the European Parliament.
My presentation has covered a short overview of the process of demise of democracy and rule of law in Hungary, with special attention given to domestic and European political circumstances. I have tried to point out some of the most relevant events, factors, logics the understanding of which makes You closer to understand what happens in this country.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in an international conference organised by the Mykolas Romeris University (MRU) of Lithuania. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the conference was organised online, and it has covered various aspects related to the 70 years anniversary of the existence of the European Convention on Human Rights, and the jurisprudence of the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights.
My presentation, titled “Is the ECHR a proper tool for historic sins?”, has examined the problem of the court entertaining cases like the Kononov case and current ongoing cases, based on the application of the Benes decrees against individuals of Hungarian and German origin by Slovakia (also referring to the recent new inter-state case against the Czech Republic by Liechtenstein, and tries to give an answer to this question.
The whole video recording of the conference is available on YouTube, my presentation starts at 1:35, but it is well worth to check the other presentations as well:
After the judgment finally rendered by the European Court of Justice on the infringement procedure initiated by the European Commission against Hungary for adoption of the so-called “NGO Transparency Law”, finding it actually being in violation of EU law, the minister of justice has immediately reacted with some strange “explanation”, seemingly arguing it is an actual win for the government.
According to Judit Varga, the court has actually confirmed the position of the Hungarian government, as “the goal of ensuring transparency of NGOs, being the goal of the legislation related to organisations supported from abroad is legitimate, which is confirmed by the judgment of the Court”. She later has posted a ridiculous post on her Facebook page accusing an oppositional MEP and a newsportal with “not being able to interpret a press release correctly”.
Maybe because instead of a “press release”, they were using the actual text of the judgment:
Hungary has introduced discriminatory and unjustified restrictions on foreign donations to civil society organisations, in breach of its obligations under Article 63 TFEU and Articles 7, 8 and 12 of the Charter.
Para 143 of the judgment
No wonder that these “arguments” are only available in Hungarian. It is time to understand who and what level of political shamelessness all the European political partners have to face when it comes to the actual Hungarian government – at least if they have any intentions to understand it.
Az Európai Bizottság elnöke is megszólalt a német Alkotmánybíróság korábban már bemutatott döntésével kapcsolatban. Itt elolvasható, elsőre nem tűnik ki belőle semmi extra (azon túl, hogy elfelejtette Strasbourgot, amelynek gyakorlata a Maastrichti szerződés óta az uniós jog elsődleges forrásai közé tartozik), ám az, hogy megemlíti a kötelezettségszegési eljárás megindításának lehetőségét, az azért felvet némi izgalmakat. Nevezetesen azt, hogy mivel a kötelezettségszegési eljárás lényeges eleme, hogy a Bizottság és az érintett tagállam vitájában végül az Európai Bíróság dönt (erről itt egy nemrégi írásom), egy ilyen eljárás lehetőséget biztosítana arra, hogy Luxembourg “visszaszóljon” Karlsruhénak.
Politikai értelemben kockázatos lenne von der Leyen részéről, mert a bírósági eljárásban lehetőség van arra, hogy a tagállamok is előadják, mit gondolnak a kérdésről (beavatkozóként) – márpedig egyáltalán nem biztos, hogy jó ötlet lenne ebben az alapvetően szakmai kérdésben tág teret engedni a populista hablatyolásnak. Jogi értelemben sem biztos, hogy sok értelme lenne amúgy, hiszen a német Alkotmánybíróság döntését semmilyen fórum nem írhatja felül otthon, de arra azért például biztosíthatna lehetőséget, hogy az Európai Bíróság mondjuk az uniós és a tagállami jog ilyen helyzetekre tekintettel való elhatárolása mellett iránymutatást adjon, hogy hogy kell eljárni, megelőzve ezzel a komolyabb legitimációs vagy egyéb válságot.
Meglátjuk, sor kerül-e erre. Addig is szórakoztasson minket a gondolat…
I have been asked for interviews by numerous representatives of international press and many colleagues working all over the world recently about the current situation in Hungary. I have decided to make these interviews and information available here as well and also to open an English section to my website. Expect more English content soon!
We start with the video interview recorded yesterday by Medyascope, together with Ms. Dalma Dojcsák from Hungarian Civil Liberties Union.
I will give You a more detailed analysis soon, as I believe that much of the information reported by international media lacks accuracy and do not put proper emphasis on the important points needed to understand the problems in their entirety.
My opinion was quoted in an article by Radio Free Europe about the new emergency legislation planned in Hungary, related to the coronavirus pandemic.
I uphold my earlier opinion about the introduction of the state of emergency being against the Hungarian consitution, and this new piece of legislation is unneccessary and potentially capable of causing a constitutional lockdown. Of course, it can be avoided if we keep on amending constitutional provisions on the fly as we go, but this has nothing to do with legal certainty…
My analysis about the proposed new EU rule of law procedure is available under the title “Better protection of the rule of law – or of European taxpayers’ money” in the Reflection series of the IIR Prague.
The writing addresses some of the questions that may be raised related to EU law, member state sovereignty and its possible effects. The regulation still has a long way to go to become a law and in or order for that to happen it needs to be accepted by the Council. According to my opinion, this legislation is necessary, as currently only the possible withdrawal or hold of EU funds can be a proper tool to keep some member state governments from further violations of basic EU legal principles, like of the rule of law.
I have given an interview to Al Jazeera Balkans about the situation of the Macedonian ex prime minister Nikola Gruevski and his “strange travel” to Hungary.
According to my opinion, his request for asylum and the whole process of him arriving to Hungary is legally dubious and probably will cause not only diplomatic trouble to Hungary, but also could give an option to Macedonia to turn to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for violation of laws of diplomatic relations. Its jurisdiction is provided by the fact that both states are parties to the relevant Vienna Convention and its protocols without any reservations that could exclude the applicability of the ICJ dispute settlement clause within.
My analysis about the newly adopted “lex CEU” in Hungary is available under the title “Attack on the CEU in Hungary – Attack only on academic freedom?” in the International Law Reflections series of the IIR Prague.
The writing addresses some of the questions that may be raised related to this shameful piece of legislation, sheds light to the political background, analyses possible legal consequences – and most importantly, points out its biggest mistake, for which the Constitutional Court shall strike it down immediately, without any further questions or deeper analysis.
Today I was quoted in The Budapest Beacon, talking about the proposed Hungarian legislation on NGOs:
According to international lawyer Tamás Lattmann, while it is difficult to understand what Németh means by sweeping the NGOs out of the country, even in Hungary it would be almost impossible to take the regulation of NGOs out of the hands of courts and put it in the hands of the government.
“However, the government can require the directors of NGOs to furnish asset disclosures, but nothing interesting will happen there as we saw in the case of the Pasa Park condos,” Lattmann told Magyar Nemzet.
The Pasa Park reference is in regards to a scandal in which Fidesz MP Antal Rogán, currently the government’s propaganda minister, was found to have underreported the size of his luxury apartment in a parliamentary asset disclosure. Nothing ever came of the incident.