Viktor Orban says “the Dutchman” is responsible for the mess at the EU summit

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Sunday that Dutch leader Mark Rutte was responsible for the impasse at a European Union summit, where leaders were due to haggle for the third day on a vast stimulus plan to their economies affected by the coronavirus. .

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives at the EU’s first face-to-face summit since the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Brussels, Belgium, on July 19, 2020. John Thys / Pool via REUTERS

“I don’t know what the personal reason is for the Dutch prime minister to hate me or Hungary, but he is attacking so hard,” he told reporters on the steps of a museum of European history in a park in Brussels, a short walk from the summit place.

“I don’t like blame games, but the Dutchman is the real man responsible for the whole mess … The Dutch prime minister, he is the fighter.”

Orban, a right-wing nationalist who has accumulated unprecedented powers since winning the elections a decade ago, has clashed with the EU executive and other member states for years over his perceived setback of democratic governance.

A group of wealthy and fiscally “frugal” northern states led by the Netherlands have blocked progress at the summit towards an agreement on a € 750 billion fund to revive European economies.

They want strict control over how the funds are spent, and there has been a strong discussion about whether the money could be withheld from countries that do not meet democratic standards.

Hungary, where Orban tightened the knot around the media, academics and civil society, threatened even before the summit started on Friday to veto the package on a proposal to freeze funds for state-depleting states of law.

“What is happening is a bit strange because there is 100% agreement on the rule of law,” said Orban. “If someone is not ready to accept the rule of law [they] you should leave the European Union immediately. They shouldn’t be punished with money. ”

He said that “these guys who inherited freedom, the rule of law and political democracy” did not have the experience that he and others in Eastern Europe were fighting against communism.

There were no immediate comments from Rutte’s office.

Rutte said at a press conference in The Hague on July 10 that the events in Hungary and Poland were “very worrying.”

“We have the principle of the rule of law and democracy, and that Europe is not only a market and a currency, but also a community of values ​​and you can have conditions,” he said.

Written by John Chalmers; Kate Abnett’s report in Brussels; additional reports from Toby Sterling in Amsterdam, Alexandra Hudson edition

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