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Growing demands for Katalin Novak to step down following pardon in pedophilia case
"There's no pardon for pedophile offenders. This is my personal belief, "Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a video shared on his Facebook page. Orbán emphasized the need for decisive action, asserting there should be no room for legal ambiguity. "A clear and unambiguous decision is necessary to rectify the situation," he said in the video.
The unusual statement comes after pressure is intensifying on Hungary's head of state, Katalin Novák, to step down following revelations that she granted a presidential pardon to an individual convicted as an accomplice in a child sexual abuse case.
Opposition parties argue that Novák, a close ally of Orbán, is no longer suitable for her position after pardoning the former deputy director of a government-run children's home last year. The man had been sentenced to over three years in prison in 2018 for his role in covering up the sexual abuse perpetrated by the institution's director. The director himself had received an eight-year sentence.
Fidesz boycotts parliamentary session on Sweden's nato accession
Fidesz boycotted a parliamentary session convened by the opposition to ratify Sweden's NATO membership, despite the presence of a group of Western ambassadors urging for a vote.
Orbán had assured NATO counterparts for months that Hungary would not be the last to endorse Sweden's membership, but failed to deliver his promise when Turkey approved Stockholm's bid.
In a symbolic gesture, a delegation of 16 diplomatic representatives, including US Ambassador David Pressman, arrived at Hungary's parliament on Monday. Pressman stressed the significance of Sweden's NATO accession for US national security and alliance security to local reporters."The prime minister pledged to convene parliament and urge parliament to act at its earliest opportunity. Today was an opportunity to do that – and we look forward to watching this closely and to Hungary acting expeditiously," Pressman said.
US Senator proposes abolition of visa waiver and travel ban on corrupt Hungarian politicians
U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued a statement following his recent meeting with David Pressman, saying "I have deep concerns over the direction of the current Hungarian government, whose officials have repeatedly attacked President Biden and Ambassador Pressman in ways that should be unthinkable for an American ally. The Biden Administration should be examining whether Hungary truly is a trusted partner deserving of participating in the Visa Waiver Program – and given the level of corruption, whether it is appropriate to initiate sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act."
Excellent discussion today with the American ambassador to Hungary, @USAmbHungary, who enjoys bipartisan support for his excellent work advancing American interests and values. pic.twitter.com/YTMLDYM792— Senator Ben Cardin (@SenatorCardin) January 31, 2024
Cardin also criticized Hungary's handling of the US envoy. Sanctions by the U.S. against individuals in allied nations are uncommon.
Hungary remains EU's most corrupt nation, Transparency International reports
For the second consecutive year, Hungary has claimed the ignominious title of the most corrupt country in the European Union, as revealed by Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index 2023. Holding steady at a score of 42 out of 100 points, Hungary's ranking marks a stark 13-point decline since 2012. This places Hungary in the company of nations such as China, Bahrain, Cuba, and Moldova.
TI highlighted a systemic erosion of the rule of law over the past decade in Hungary, resulting in an environment where high-level corruption flourishes with impunity. The establishment of rule-of-law reforms and a sovereignty protection office by the Hungarian government, the report suggests, seem geared towards maintaining the existing power structure. Denmark secured the top spot in the rankings with an impressive score of 90 out of 100 points.