Hungary premier criticised at home over EU pact hesitation
Dec 9, 2011, 17:05 GMT
Budapest - Opposition parties in Hungary lambasted Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Friday for his apparent footdragging over backing a fiscal discipline pact aimed at stabilising the eurozone.
Former Socialist prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany accused Orban of sending damaging 'contradictory' signals and jeopardizing Hungary's position in the EU.
'What the Brits, who generate 14 per cent of Europe's GDP can do, we cannot,' Gyurcsany said.
The current leader of the opposition Socialist party, Attila Mesterházy, said it would be 'madness' for Hungary to opt out of the pact.
Gabor Scheiring of the small green-liberal opposition party LMP spoke of 'hourly changes' to the government's position.
'(This) not only showed the inadequacy of the cabinet, but also made Hungary appear a clown before the whole of Europe,' Scheiring said.
A statement issued by the European Council after a marathon overnight meeting of EU leaders implied that Hungary, along with Britain, was refusing to enter into the fiscal discipline pact.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt commented on Twitter: 'Worried that Britain is starting to drift away from Europe in a serious way. To where? In a strong alliance with Hungary...'
However, Orban signalled when arriving for the second day of talks in Brussels that he would put the decision to Hungary's national assembly - a position shared by the Czech Republic and Sweden.
The Council subsequently issued an updated statement which said Hungary was one of nine non-eurozone EU members who had 'indicated the possibility to take part in this process after consulting their Parliaments where appropriate.'
Orban's conservative Fidesz-Christian Democrat alliance controls Hungary's parliament, with a highly disciplined caucus that has a two-thirds majority.
Hungary's decision over joining the pact will be made by the 'Fidesz voting machine controlled solely by Viktor Orban,' said Janos Volner of the far-right party Jobbik, which opposes the EU fiscal pact.
Orban was quoted by Hungarian spokesman in Brussels Marton Hajdu on Twitter as saying that Hungary would 'never be in same boat with UK' and still intends to join the eurozone.
Hungary's premier expects a 'colourful' parliamentary debate over the issue but said 'we remain an EU member and euro-committed,' Hajdu tweeted.
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