Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is visiting Zagreb as part of a meeting of the Central European Initiative. Orban is a populist with autocratic tendencies, whose stated aim is to create an illiberal democracy under the guise of protecting national interests and Christian values. In this system Orban and his oligarchs are able to continue gaining profit through corrupt practices and the abuse of public goods with immunity.
Orban’s government is systematically stripping freedoms
Croatia has an obligation to call for the respect of universally accepted human rights standards, which ultimately is one of the objectives of foreign policy. As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, Croatia has a duty to warn Hungary of the harm caused by its illiberal policies. It should also press the view that it is in Hungary’s national interest to support democratic developments and respect for human rights in all of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
Prime Minister Orban and his Fidesz party have enacted a series of policies that systematically undermine the democratic foundations of the Hungarian state and society and have turned the country into an illiberal democracy. Orban's government has started stripping the Hungarian judiciary of its independence, attacked independent journalism and media, and criminalised and harassed homeless people in Hungary, as well as treating refugees and asylum seekers in an inhumane and unlawful way.
Orban’s erosion of freedoms has had worrying consequences
In Orban's Hungary, democratic institutions are held hostage by Fidesz “puppets” and its crony network, with the Government implementing policies that go against the fundamental values of the European Union – respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights. The Orban regime also acts to silence all critical voices in the country. In the past few months, the Hungarian Government has been actively working on eroding academic freedoms, imposing legal restrictions and intimidating critical civil society organizations. The result is worrying: gender studies has been banned at all universities, the Central European University is being forced to leave Budapest, and civil society organizations have publicly been declared as foreign mercenaries and are now facing draconian tax burdens.
Plenković should reject the illiberal model
Condemnation of these policies by the European Parliament should be a sufficient signal to the Croatian Government and Prime Minister Plenković that the Hungarian model is not one to follow.
These harmful and dangerous policies must be challenged and openly condemned in order to prevent illiberal and anti-democratic models from Hungary and Poland being imported, as we witnessed earlier in 2016.