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Thousands of Hungarians Hold Anti-EU Demonstration

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Protesters trample a burnt European Union flag during a demonstration in front of the EU Parliament and Committee headquarters in downtown Budapest, January 14, 2012.

Thousands of Hungarians have protested against the European Union, urging their country to pull out from the bloc while Budapest seeks EU’s backing to evade insolvency.

People gathered in front of the European Commission offices in Budapest on Saturday in a street protest called by the rightist Jobbik Party — the second biggest opposition party in Hungary’s parliament.

“This week the EU declared war on Hungary in a very harsh and open way,” said Csanad Szegedi, a Jobbik member of European Parliament, addressing the protesters.

Szegedi was referring to the bloc’s threats of legal action against Hungary over a series of new laws passed by the two-thirds majority of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party.

The EU says the law curtails the independence of the country’s central bank, its judiciary and its national data protection authority.

The most disputed point of the legislation, which went into effect on January 1, is a plan to merge the central bank and the financial regulator, a de facto demotion for the country’s central bank president.

Although Hungary made a set of changes to the central bank law to more closely comply with the criteria of the European Central Bank, some of the most controversial points, including new nomination procedures for senior central bank officials, were passed without change.

However, Hungarian protesters on Saturday urged the government not to bow to international pressure, insisting that Hungary should go its own way and keep its national sovereignty.

The EU is pressing Budapest to change controversial legislations on its central bank and judiciary, and even threatened to suspend vital EU funds to Hungary if Orban does not make budget deficit cuts sustainable.

Hungary will have to make significant changes to win the European Commission’s green light for aid talks, as the EU’s executive prepared to announce its verdict on some key Hungarian laws next week.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi said the government would examine the EU’s concerns and pledged that Budapest will do its best to secure an agreement with the European Commission and International Monetary Fund.


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