pm defiant as hungary set to adopt controversial laws
Last Updated : GMT 06:41:18
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

PM defiant as Hungary set to adopt controversial laws

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today PM defiant as Hungary set to adopt controversial laws

Budapest - AFP

Prime Minister Viktor Orban remained defiant Friday as lawmakers prepared to adopt a series of controversial laws that threaten to leave Hungary isolated just as it may need another international bailout. \"Nobody can interfere with Hungarian legislative work, there is no one in the world who might tell the elected deputies of the Hungarian people which act to pass and which not to,\" Orban said on Hungarian public radio MR1-Kossuth. The Hungarian parliament, where Orban\'s centre right Fidesz party holds such an overwhelming majority that allows it amend the country\'s constitution, was set to vote a number of internationally-criticised measures. The head of the European Union (EU) executive Jose Manuel Barroso has demanded Orban withdraw legislation that critics said would increase government influence over monetary policy. US State Secretary Hillary Clinton has also repeatedly expressed her concern over the state of democracy in Hungary. Hungary can ill-afford to anger its international partners at a time when it is seeking a 15-20 billion-euro ($20-25 billion) credit line from the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In a major U-turn, Orban turned to the IMF and EU for help in mid-November after Hungary had difficulties borrowing on the bond markets and its currency fell drastically against the euro. The lenders however walked out on preliminary talks on December 16 over the draft law that would see the central bank disappear as a separate institution and more political appointees added to the committee that decides on monetary policy. \"The talks with the IMF are foreseen to kick off in the beginning of January,\" Orban said, although the EU and the IMF have yet to confirm the resumption of negotiations. Orban added that the talks were \"important but not essential\". However the economic pressure on Hungary\'s government has not let up. Investors demanded returns of over nine percent to lend to the government this week, forcing the government to abandon part of a bond sale, and the forint has fallen 20 percent against the euro. Moody\'s and Standard & Poor\'s have downgraded Hurgary\'s bonds to junk status. Orban\'s government has embarked on a number of measures with have embittered investors and rankled its international partners, including windfall taxes on the banking, energy, telecommunication and retail sectors where foreign companies dominate. It also forced mostly foreign banks which had lent to Hungarians in foreign currencies, which substantially appreciated leaving borrowers with huge repayment bills, to accept repayment at reduced rates. In addition to the central bank reforms that the European Central Bank has also criticised, Hungarian lawmakers are also set to approve a new law on religion that reduces the number of denominations that receive state support to 14 from over 300. Also set to pass was a law on \"communist crimes\" which seeks to make the current leadership of the main socialist opposition party MSZP responsible for the crimes committed by its communist predecessor. Reforms of the media, judiciary and electoral laws, as well as appointment of Fidesz loyalists to key posts and the adoption of a new constitution set to come into force on January 1 have led to criticism both at home and abroad. Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian premier and currently the head of the Liberals in the European Parliament, called the new constitution a \"Trojan horse for a more authoritarian political system in Hungary based on the perpetuation of one-party rule.\"  

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