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Orban to tackle EU lawmakers over censure move -The Asian Age


Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban confronts his critics Tuesday in the European Parliament on the eve of a vote to censure his right-wing populist government.

Orban plans to deliver a "frank and outspoken" defence of his stance before the European Parliament, which will decide whether to start steps that could lead to political sanctions against Hungary.

Budapest argues that its anti-migrant measures and defense of sovereign rights are in tune with the mood of European voters -- who will elect a new parliament in Strasbourg next May.

But Judith Sargentini, who is spearheading a vote Wednesday on whether to take action against Hungary, warned her fellow MEPs that the 28-nation bloc's founding values are at stake.

"Do you want the rule of law?" demanded Sargentini, a left-wing Green MEP from the Netherlands.Her proposed resolution warns that Hungary's actions represent a "systemic threat" to the bloc's democratic founding values.

It voices concerns about the Hungarian judiciary's independence, corruption, freedom of expression, academic freedom, religious freedom, and the rights of minorities and refugees. 

Addressing the parliament ahead of Orban, Greek leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said: "Pro-European forces have a duty to stand side by side. We should not let Europe slide back to the past." Opposition to Orban's vision does not just come from the left.

There is disquiet in the main centre right parliamentary group, the European People's Party (EPP), about his position, despite it including his Fidesz party."MEPs from the centre right have a clear choice next week," declared Guy Verhofstadt, head of the liberal ALDE group.

---AFP, Strasbourg