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Justice Minister Judit Varga slammed an opposition MEP, Anna Donáth, over a leaked recording in which Donáth allegedly admits that the opposition had waged a deliberate smear campaign against the government’s epidemic response in the spring. Varga said the opposition had waged the campaign knowing that the Fidesz administration “was only doing what a democratically elected government had to do”. Citing a leaked recording of the Momentum MEP talking to other party members released by commercial news channel HírTV, Varga said on Facebook that the MEP had “unwittingly admitted” that the opposition had “lied” about the government using its epidemic response law to “build a dictatorship”.
“Donáth’s leaked comments once again prove that while the government was working with the Hungarian people to minimise the threat to public health and jobs, the opposition parties were busy launching a … coordinated series of attacks against Hungary in Brussels and around the world, saying that the epidemic response law was being used to create a dictatorship…” the minister said, adding that in the recording, Donáth “clearly admitted” that Momentum had played an active role in “the international smear campaign against Hungary and the Hungarian government”. She also makes it clear, Varga said, that once Momentum realised that the campaign had backfired, “they came up with a new narrative they could use to launch another coordinated attack in the summer, this time accusing Hungary of gutting the rule of law.” She insisted that Donáth’s comments shed new light on “the bias behind the European Commission’s rule of law report”, European Commissioner Věra Jourová’s recent criticisms of Hungary and German EP vice-president Katarina Barley’s criticisms in connection with corruption. Varga said it was “unacceptable” that neither Momentum nor the other opposition parties had apologised to the Hungarian people for their actions, and she called on Donáth to step down from public life.
In March, Hungary’s parliament passed a law that granted the government enhanced powers to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus epidemic. Critics of the law said it granted the government “excessive powers”, and expressed concern over the fact that it did not contain a time limit for maintaining the state of emergency. Lawmakers lifted the government’s emergency powers in June.