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Tag: Democracy Summit

Hungary frustrates EU’s plans to take part in U.S. democracy summit

picture of Viktor Orbán

The European Union will not be an official participant in U.S. President Joe Biden’s summit on democracy thanks to a Hungarian veto. According to a Bloomberg article, Hungary torpedoed the EU’s plans because Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (pictured) was excluded from the online event.

The veto from the Hungarian side came up in discussions on Wednesday between the EU ambassadors, claims the news site, with the justification that the United States did not invite all member states individually. As previously reported, Hungary was alone in European Union member states in not getting an invitation to the virtual meeting on December 9-10, to which the leaders of around 110 other countries were invited.

The Hungarian envoy argued that the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, could not speak on behalf of the European Union as a whole because they had not agreed on a common position.

Due to the veto, the Commission’s Legal Service says the EU will not be able to submit a joint written draft to the summit, although Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel will be able to speak at the event, representing prior agreements.

Hungary has been at odds with the European Union for years over matters concerning the rule of law, such as press freedom and the independence of the judiciary.

This also isn’t the first time that Hungary has frustrated EU-wide decisions. The member state prevented the EU from formulating a common stance on the issues of human rights in Hong Kong and gender equality, Bloomberg points out.


Hungary not invited to Biden’s democracy-strengthening summit

picture of Uzra Zeya

During the US Presidential campaign, Joe Biden promised to convene a summit after his election with governments and civilians to counter the decline of democracy and human rights. More than 100 countries are reportedly invited to the virtual event in December, but Politico has reported that Hungary is the only EU member state that is missing from the list of participants.

The list of invitees reportedly includes Poland and the Philippines, two countries frequently criticized for displaying anti-democratic policies and practices.

“The United States is inviting countries to the Democracy Summit in three weeks that will set the bar high for themselves and others in renewing democratic values, policies and institutions,” Uzra Zeya, the US Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights (pictured), answering questions from journalists by telephone before her European tour, told Népszava. The online event was convened by President Biden and will be held between December 9-10.

The newspaper asked the government official why Poland had been invited to the summit and not Hungary, despite serious concerns about the rule of law in both EU member states. However, Zeya was reluctant to respond to press reports about the guest list, stating instead that their intention was to involve all countries that are committed to supporting the summit’s three core goals: combating authoritarianism, battling corruption, and promoting respect for human rights at home and abroad.

Uzra Zeya avoided answering all questions about the guests invited to the online event in her telephone interview, explaining instead that the United States is inviting regionally-diverse, well-functioning and emerging democracies that are interested in creating a fairer and more peaceful world to the summit.

Meanwhile, it is also important to keep in mind that no democracy is perfect. “Our goal is for the summit to be as comprehensive as possible within the logistical constraints and to accommodate as many views as possible,” she said.

Commitments, reforms and initiatives determined at the summit will be announced in line with the three objectives of the meeting. This will be followed by consultations and another summit planned at the end of 2022, the diplomat said.