Czech PM Babis ‘stands behind Hungary’ after European Union parliament vote on sanctions

Simon Mc Coy continues to deliver top moments on BBC news                
         
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Simon Mc Coy continues to deliver top moments on BBC news Television

The measure, which required a two-thirds supermajority of the European Parliament to pass, declared there was a "clear risk of serious breach" of European values by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The vote in Strasbourg, France, came after a report from Dutch Green member of the European Parliament Judith Sargentini raised concerns about Hungary's erosion of democracy in recent years, including putting pressure on courts, widespread corruption, crackdown on the media and academic institutions.

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

That procedure could end with Budapest being stripped of its European Union voting rights, but Orban brushed off the threat during an interview on Hungarian public radio.

With 448 votes in favour, 197 against and 48 abstentions, the motion was passed in the plenary session on September 12.

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He said Europe had no right to interfere in the actions of a sovereign government.

Cheered on by far-right parties, Orban said he rejected "the blackmail, the slander and fraudulent accusations levelled against Hungary and the Hungarian people by the European Parliament's pro-immigration and pro-migrant forces". Szijjarto said Hungary was considering legal options to appeal the result. He cracked down on media freedoms, rewrote laws to favor his center-right Fidesz party, and has blasted Brussels for allowing a wave of more than 1 million migrants into Europe in 2015.

"The plan is that, if they can not force Hungary to receive migrants, they will deprive the country of the right to control its own borders".

Along the way, Orban has been shielded by his alliance with fellow center-right European leaders as part of the European People's Party, an arrangement that gives them control of the European Parliament and, other leaders have said, more sway over his moves at home. Though the European Union has often protested, it has largely failed to stop what his critics decry as his growing authoritarianism.

His refusal to budge this time cost him support in the EPP conservative grouping, which includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, who have criticised some of Orban's policies.

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"Actions aimed against member states serve only deepening divides in the EU, increasing citizens' current lack of confidence to European institutions". "[I] am in harmony with today's decision", he said through a spokeswoman's Twitter account. "We had enough dialogue".

The European Union voted to punish Hungary over violation of its core values.

"Instead of desertion, we should take on the more hard task of renewing the European People's Party, and helping it to find its way back to its Christian Democratic roots".

"This decision condemning Hungary and the Hungarian people was made because we Hungarians have demonstrated that migration is not a necessary process and that migration can be stopped", Szijjarto said in Budapest.

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