Civil Group Alleges EU’s Reding Conspired Against Hungary

    The Wall Street Journal
    By The Wall Street Journal

    By Margit Feher

    BUDAPEST–A Hungarian civil organization alleged Monday that European Commission Vice President Viviane Reding had conspired to undermine the country’s 2014 parliamentary elections and called for her resignation.

    Ms. Reding’s spokeswoman Mina Andreeva rejected the claims, saying Ms. Reding, an EU commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, has fought her whole life for democracy and free elections.

    Hungary’s Civil Union Forum, or COF, challenged Ms. Reding to stand down if she was unable to prove that she wasn’t attempting to weaken the legitimacy of next year’s election by coordinating efforts with the Bilderberg Group, other civil organizations and former Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai, who heads the Egyutt 2014 opposition movement.

    The Bilderberg Group hosts an annual conference of 120-150 leaders and experts from politics, industry, finance and academia for off-the-record, informal discussions about major issues facing the world, according to the group’s website. Its 61st meeting took place in early June.

    The COF addressed a letter to Ms. Reding accusing her of promoting her own political advancement and agenda. It alleged that she was working with others to convince the international community ahead of the spring 2014 elections that Hungarians are too afraid to cast their votes freely.

    “This is a conspiracy in earnest against our nation,” COF founder Laszlo Csizmadia told reporters.

    Ms. Reding refuted those claims. Her spokeswoman said her concern was that the next European elections in Hungary should take place in a free and democratic way.

    Asked on June 19 by the European Parliament’s LIBE committee about comments she was alleged to have made concerning Hungary at the Bilderberg conference, she said “quotations of what I see I am supposed to have said at the Bilderberg conference have not the slightest link with reality.”

    The European Commission has expressed doubts over the legality of a recent Hungarian constitutional amendment that bans political advertising on public television. The Commission is in contact with Hungarian authorities on this matter, Ms. Reding’s spokeswoman said.

    The COF said Hungary has come under “a steady and systematic political attack” since Prime Minister Viktor Orban declined further financial help from the International Monetary Fund soon when his Fidesz party won a landslide victory in 2010, COF leaders said at a news conference.

    COF leader Mr. Csizmadia insisted that Hungary had been under fire from the European Union as its most recent economic indicators suggested that its unorthodox policies have succeeded while the EU is struggling in its attempts to contain the financial crisis.

    Hungary has been criticized for levying a series of ad-hoc taxes on the country’s energy, telecommunications, retail and bank sectors in a bid to plug a budget hole. The government chose that route rather than implementing painful spending cuts and structural changes that could have alienated voters. Instead, Fidesz, which has a two-thirds parliamentary majority, has cut utility costs for households, leaving the companies involved to bear the resulting revenue losses.

    COF, which also announced Monday that it has established the Association of the Spiritual Patriots of the Homeland comprising some 5,000 Hungarian intellectuals, backs the utility price cuts and the government’s drive to make strategically significant industries state-owned again, its leaders said.

    They also defended the new constitution which, with its fourth amendment in March, has been criticized by various international bodies such as the United Nations and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, the continent’s democracy watchdog.

    Hungarians who criticize the Hungarian way “are contributing to the discrediting of the country [and] are traitors in our eyes,” said Izabella Bencze, one of the COF leaders.

    The Hungarian Parliament first approved a new constitution, or Basic Law, drafted by the Fidesz government in 2011. At the time the government said it was a necessary step for the country to eradicate the legacy of communism.

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