Hungary's pro-Putin leader Viktor Orban declares State of Emergency

Hungary's pro-Putin leader Viktor Orban declares State of Emergency

May 24, 2022

Hungary’s pro-Putin Prime Minister Viktor Orban announces new State of Emergency due to concerns over Ukraine – replacing the Covid one that would have expired next week

  • Hungary has declared a legal ‘state of danger’ in response to war in Ukraine
  • Orban’s party passed a constitutional amendment to allow the declaration
  • The government can now enact laws by decree without parliamentary oversight
  • A similar measure introduced amid Covid was set to expire on June 1
  • Despite Hungary’s NATO membership, Orban has maintained strong relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin 

Hungary has declared a legal ‘state of danger’ in response to Russia’s war in neighboring Ukraine, the prime minister announced Tuesday, allowing the right-wing nationalist government to take special measures without the participation of the legislature.

In a video on social media, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that the war in Ukraine represents ‘a constant threat to Hungary’ which was ‘putting our physical security at risk and threatening the energy and financial security of our economy and families.’

In response, he said, a ‘war state of danger’ would take effect beginning Wednesday, allowing the government ‘to respond immediately and protect Hungary and Hungarian families by any means possible.’

The move came after Orban’s ruling party passed a constitutional amendment Tuesday allowing for legal states of danger to be declared when armed conflicts, wars or humanitarian disasters were taking place in neighboring countries.

The special legal order permits the government to enact laws by decree without parliamentary oversight, and permits the temporary suspension of and deviation from existing laws.

Hungary’s government implemented similar measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to outcry from critics and legal observers, who argued they gave the government authority to rule by decree. That special legal order was set to expire on June 1.

Though Hungary is a member of NATO, Orban has maintained a strong relationship with Vladimir Putin throughout the war in Ukraine and has continually advocated for a softer Western stance on Russia.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that the war in Ukraine represents ‘a constant threat to Hungary’ which was ‘putting our physical security at risk and threatening the energy and financial security of our economy and families.’

Though Hungary is a member of NATO, Orban has maintained a strong relationship with Vladimir Putin (pictured) throughout the war in Ukraine and has continually advocated for a softer Western stance on Russia

Orban’s government has been accused of eroding democratic freedoms in Hungary since taking power in 2010, and using state resources to cement its power. 

The governing Fidesz party won a fourth-straight election victory on April 3, giving Orban, the longest-serving leader in the European Union, an additional four-year term.

In a statement Tuesday, Emese Pasztor of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union wrote that Hungary’s government was ‘once again adapting the rules of the game to its own needs.’

‘By always allowing the possibility of introducing a special legal order in the future, it will lose its special character.

‘It will become the new normal, which will threaten the fundamental rights of all of us, and rule by decree will further diminish the importance of Parliament,’ Pasztor wrote.

Governmental decrees issued through the special legal order are valid for 15 days unless extended by Hungary’s parliament. 

Orban’s Fidesz party has held a two-thirds majority in parliament since 2010.

Orban’s government has expressed continued support for Vladimir Putin despite Hungary being a member of NATO since 1997.

Orban on Monday wrote to the President of the European Council Charles Michel to declare that the EU’s proposed new sanctions including an oil embargo against Russia should not be discussed at next week’s summit of EU leaders.

The Hungarian leader said it was unlikely a solution could be found by then, and that Hungary was not in a position to agree to the proposed EU sanctions until all outstanding issues are resolved.

The European Union wants to impose a new round of sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine, but Hungary has emerged as one of the biggest obstacles to unanimous support needed from the bloc’s 27 member nations

The proposal put forward by EC President Ursula von der Leyen (pictured) which would see the EU steadily phase out imports of Russian crude and refined products over the coming months has been blocked by Orban

Almost all of the European bloc’s 27 member states are in agreement over the proposal which would see another blow dealt to the Russian economy, but Hungary has remained steadfast in its disapproval of the move.

The president of the EU’s executive commission Ursula von der Leyen set out the terms of the proposal in early May which focused on phasing out imports of Russian crude within six months and refined products by the end of the year to wean Europe off its dependence on Russian fossil fuels.

But Orban’s government insisted it will not support any sanctions that target Russian energy exports, saying the oil boycott would be an ‘atomic bomb’ for Hungary’s economy and destroy its ‘stable energy supply.’

Von der Leyen personally met with Orban two weeks ago to try to salvage the proposal but talks proved unsuccessful and no agreement has yet been reached. 

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