Defiant Hungarian PM vows to defend national interest despite EU pressure


EMBATTLED PM Viktor Orban vowed to defend Hungary’s interests and sovereignty despite mounting EU pressure, as tens of thousands rallied for and against his government in Budapest.

“This is a day for freedom fighters . . . We came here today because we Hungarians are freedom fighters; we will not be a colony,” Mr Orban told supporters on a national holiday marking Hungary’s 1848 revolution against Austrian rule.

The EU has told Hungary that it will face legal action unless it alters laws on its central bank, judiciary and data protection system. Brussels has also warned Mr Orban that talks on a €15-20 billion aid package will not begin until the dispute is resolved.

The banking legislation is part of a constitution that domestic critics, several EU states and the United States have said concentrates too much power in the hands of Mr Orban and his allies.

“Hungarians write their own constitution and don’t need unsolicited help from foreigners who wish to control our actions,” said Mr Orban. “We very well know the nature of unsolicited help from comrades, and we recognise it even if it’s not wearing uniforms but well-cut suits,” he said, apparently comparing EU officials to the Soviets. “We say we have to break out of the debt trap and that only strong nations can make Europe great again.”

Mr Orban has used a two-thirds parliamentary majority to push through radical legislation.

His critics say he is destroying democratic checks and balances and ensuring his party rules for the foreseeable future.

Polish flags were prominent in a sea of banners fluttering against a sunny spring sky yesterday, waved by hundreds of right-wing Poles who travelled to Budapest to show support for Mr Orban.

Across the Danube from the pro-Orban rally, thousands of opponents denounced his rule and pledged to restore power to institutions weakened by his government.