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During pandemic, Manfred Weber and his associates regard revision of rules of EPP Group as a matter of urgency

If Fidesz are not welcome, “we do not feel compelled to stay in the Group,” Mr Orbán, President of the party wrote to Manfred Weber, Leader of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament on Sunday.

In his message also sent to the Hungarian news agency, the Hungarian Prime Minister wrote if the rules adopted on Friday are passed, Fidesz will leave the European People’s Party (EPP) Group.

At the beginning of his letter, Mr Orbán pointed out that the European People’s Party has been facing a crisis of leadership and policy direction for some time, adding that “we recommend returning to the heritage of Martens”. He argued that Wilfried Martens (former President of the European People’s Party) successfully united centre-right and right-wing parties with different roots and geographical backgrounds. He formed an alliance between traditional, continental Christian Democrats and Northern conservatives, and managed to incorporate the Christian, right-wing, nation-oriented parties of the former communist countries into the EPP “with an ambitious enlargement policy”.

The Hungarian Prime Minister observed that for the past two years there have been promises in the Party of in-depth internal discussions about our visions for the future. Mr Orbán reminded Mr Weber that in his letter sent to him on 6 December last year, he put forward a proposal to set up a new form of cooperation at Group level, similar to the former EPP-ED model. “These promises have not been kept, nor has my letter been answered,” he added.

Instead, he wrote, “the revision of the internal regulations has been put on the table, drafted at record speed, aiming to facilitate the exclusion – or as this would not obtain the required majority either – creating hastily defined and legally questionable circumstances for the suspension, of our elected MEPs from the EPP Group”. According to Mr Orbán, the message is clear and duly noted. “If Fidesz is not welcome, we do not feel compelled to stay in the Group,” he wrote.

Regarding the current situation, in his letter written to the leader of the People’s Party Group, the Hungarian Prime Minister underlined three concerns. First of all, he drew attention to the fact that the coronavirus pandemic had claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Europeans in the past year. The third wave has just hit our countries, “causing terrible loss of lives and causing unprecedented damage to our economies,” he wrote, highlighting that „in each country, we are fighting a life-or-death struggle day and night”. These times call for cooperation, joint efforts, tolerance and patience, the Prime Minister stressed, taking the view that it is hard to comprehend and to accept that Manfred Weber and his associates regard the revision of the rules of the EPP Group in effect for many years now as a matter of urgency.

As a second concern, Mr Orbán highlighted that our definition of the rule of law cannot accommodate the retroactive amendment of rules or the imposition of sanctions as clearly laid down in the new provisions. According to the Prime Minister, these amendments were tailored to sanction Fidesz MEPs. “As you did not have sufficient votes to punish us, you are now trying to change the rules and apply them to an ongoing procedure,” he added.

In point three, he highlighted that as President of Fidesz, it is his duty to guarantee the full representation of their voters. Therefore, he cannot accept the limitation of the rights of Fidesz MEPs that are necessary for the fulfilment of their duties. “This would be profoundly undemocratic,” he wrote.

Mr Orbán drew attention to the fact that Fidesz MEPs were elected with the support of more than 1.8 million Hungarian voters, representing more than 52 per cent of the votes cast. Proportionally, they represent the strongest delegation of the EPP Group. He wrote “sidelining them means ignoring the democratic decision of almost 2 million Hungarian citizens and weakening our political family”.

In conclusion, the President of Fidesz wrote that if the provisions approved at the meeting of the Presidency and heads of national delegations on 26 February are put to the vote and adopted, Fidesz will leave the Group.