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May 24, 2022

Thousands of Hungarians rally to back embattled PM

Viktor Orban will meet with top Brussels officials this week to hammer out details of what changes his government has to make to comply with EU laws.

BUDAPEST – At least 100,000 people have rallied in Hungary’s capital Budapest in support of embattled Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his government, BBC News reported. Participants carried banners in foreign languages, appealing to the European Union to respect Hungarian sovereignty.

Orban and his cabinet have recently come under heavy criticism both at home and in Europe for adopting laws seen as endangering democracy. The prime minister earlier this week agreed to amend some of the bills. He is due to meet top EU officials on Tuesday to hammer out details of what changes Budapest is willing to make to the laws to comply with EU treaties.

Saturday’s peaceful rally began in Heroes Square – the heart of the Hungarian capital. The demonstrators then marched down the main boulevard toward the parliament building.

“I would call it a march for peace, to show the government it is not alone, he said, and to show the European Union that we don’t like how they are treating it,” Zsolt Bayer, a well-known newspaper columnist, told the BBC.

This was a massive show of support for Orban and his Fidesz government. The backers of the centre-right cabinet also wanted to show that they could mobilise more supporters than the opposition, which earlier this month attracted some 70,000 people for its demonstration.

The legal dispute between Hungary and the EU is about the laws which came into effect 1 January. The European Com­mission has warned that the bills on Hungary’s central bank, the judiciary and data protection authority put those bodies’ independence at risk.

Orban’s government has been given a month to make changes. Failure to do so would be grounds for the commission to levy fines or take Hungary to the European Court of Justice. The commission has also warned that negotiations on a badly-needed loan of up to EUR 20 bln from the EU and the International Monetary Fund will not resume until the laws are amended.

Over 1,200 rally in Romania

Protests in support of Orban were also held in Romania’s Hungarian inhabited regions, according to Mediafax. In Harghita, there were over 500 who protested against “international pressure” on the neighbouring state and its current government. The protesters sang the Hungarian anthem and held speeches in favour of Orban and his government, which had the courage to take measures to protect Hungary’s people from the effects of the crisis.

Over 600 rallied in Covasna County and more than 100 took to the street in Targu Mures.

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