European Union legislators vote to impose disciplinary action on Hungary

It is the first time that the parliament has launched the EU's disciplinary process against a member state, known as Article 7, and it exposes the deep unease in parts of the Europe about the policies pursued by the country's hardline prime minister Viktor Orban.

Mitsotakis's party, New Democracy, is in the same conservative bloc in the European Parliament as Orban's, the European People's Party (EPP).

Defending his country in a speech on Tuesday, Orban hit out at a report commissioned by the European Parliament that accused Hungary's government of corruption, undermining democracy, the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, freedom of expression, and the rights of migrants, refugees and minorities - calling it "blackmail".

Szijjarto said Hungary was considering legal options to appeal the result because of the way the vote was tallied.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban vowed, pn September 11, 2018, to defy European Union pressure to soften his hardline anti-migrant stance, condemning what he called the "blackmail" of his country.

But Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs claimed in a tweet that the motion had failed because the overall vote did not receive the support of two-thirds present.

Rapporteur Judith Sargentini reacts after the vote on the situation in Hungary during a voting session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

"You say no more than the Hungarian people cannot decide for themselves what is in their own interest".

MEP Angel Dzhambazki, who sided with Orban, wrote on Facebook condemning the motion and adding that, "today the European Union went in the direction of its Soviet counterpart".

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"If need be, we will stand up to you", said Orban, whose right-wing Fidesz party was re-elected with a landslide majority last April.

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.

Even EPP leader Manfred Weber, who earlier was supportive of Orban and is seeking to become the European Commission president next year, said he had voted for triggering Article 7.

The European Parliament is expected to vote on a sanctions procedure that would suspend Hungary's right to vote in all European Institutional bodies, a potential move that caused Orban to lash out at the lawmakers. The same procedure was launched by the European Commission against Poland in December 2017. "They made it clear that human rights, the rule of law and democratic values are not up for negotiation", said Berber Biala-Hettinga, Amnesty International's expert on human rights in the EU. He has also expressed his desire to remain within the EPP, which he said was "deeply divided" on the issue of migration.

The top European Union court could impose fines, which would be less drastic for Hungary than losing its voting rights.

"We don't see these people as Muslim refugees".

Dutch anti-Islam campaigner and MP Geert Wilders described the vote on Twitter as "a bloody shame".

"Orban is a hero and deserves the Nobel Prize. He protects his citizens against terror and defends the identity of his country".

"Our perspective is something that would help the EPP remain the strongest political community or group in the European Parliament", Kovacs said.

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