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For a Third Time, Hungary Vetoed EU’s Criticism of China on Hong Kong

On June 7, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, in his annual speech to German diplomats, criticized Hungary without naming it. “We can’t let ourselves be held hostage by the people who hobble European foreign policy with their vetoes. If you do that then sooner or later you are risking the cohesion of Europe. The veto has to go, even if that means we can be outvoted.”

Hungary is seen by the media as a Trojan horse that China planted into Europe. It has become the spokesman for China in the EU and has repeatedly prevented the body from condemning human rights in China, putting Europe under the risk of being divided. After Hungary used its veto three times within two months to prevent the EU from issuing statements on Hong Kong’s national security law and electoral reform, German Foreign Ministry of State Secretary Miguel Berger tweeted against Hungary. “Hungary again blocked an EU statement on Hong Kong. Three weeks ago it was on the Middle East. Common foreign and security policy cannot work on the basis of a blocking policy.”

Asked to comment on the Friday veto, the Hungarian government’s media office said EU sanctions on China were “pointless, presumptuous and harmful.” Hungary blocked an earlier EU statement in April criticizing China’s new security law in Hong Kong, thereby undermining the bloc’s efforts to confront Beijing’s curbing of freedoms in the former British colony.

Berger’s tweet raises concern because it is unusual for a member state to criticize another member state publicly over diplomatic issues, reflecting the fact that other EU countries, especially large ones like Germany, are getting closer to the bottom of their tolerance for Hungary. Some member states and the EU may already be thinking of taking action against Hungary.

Three weeks ago, Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, complained about Hungary’s obstruction and warned that the other 26 member states may issue their own joint statement on Hong Kong. Maas called on the EU to stop making decisions on foreign action by unanimity. Because the EU’s foreign policy decisions are made by unanimous vote, any member state can boycott them, making it difficult for the EU to speak out in a unified voice.

The EU said it would investigate Hungary for violating democratic values. The European Court of Justice said that Hungary’s public displeasure with the EU and its request to dismiss the accusation of serious violations of democratic values against Hungary was rejected. Next, Hungary will be investigated by the European Court of Justice and, if it is found to be in serious violation of democratic values, it will be subject to economic and political penalties .

Source: Radio Free Asia, June 9, 2021