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Hungary’s Orbán demands Commission VP Věra Jourová’s resignation

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán | Aris Oikonomou/AFP via Getty Images

Jourová had criticized the Hungarian leader in an interview this weekend.

Viktor Orbán on Monday sent a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen demanding the resignation of her Vice President Věra Jourová after she criticized the Hungarian prime minister.

He also announced his government would “suspend all bilateral contacts” with Jourová for the time being.

“According to the Vice President, in Hungary a ‘sick democracy’ is being built and in addition she insulted EU citizens of Hungarian nationality by saying that they are not in a position to form an independent opinion,” the prime minister wrote.

Orbán’s complaints came after Jourová — the Commission’s vice president for values and transparency — told magazine Der Spiegel this weekend: “Mr. Orbán likes to say that he is building an illiberal democracy … I would say: he’s building an ill democracy.”

Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga on Monday also called for Jourová’s resignation. “No democratic institution should tolerate a leader who uses such insults as she did in her Spiegel interview,” she tweeted.

In his letter, Orbán said Jourová’s comments were “not only a direct political attack against the democratically elected Government of Hungary, but also … a humiliation to Hungary and the Hungarian people. The former is inappropriate, the latter is unacceptable.”

He also described her remarks as “in contradiction with the Commission’s role as a neutral and objective institution.”

Hungary — along with Poland — has long clashed with the Commission over whether its government is backsliding on democracy and the rule of law.

Hungary’s foreign minister on Monday said he has “had enough of some Western European politicians using us as a punchbag,” announcing the setup of a new joint institute with Poland that would assess the state of the rule of law across the EU without succumbing to Brussels’ “double standards.”

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