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Orbán does not ‘understand’ U.S. criticism on NGOs

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán does not “understand” the United States’ opposition of the recently adopted law on NGOs, as the States has “much stricter” legislation, the PM said in his regular biweekly interview on state-owned Kossuth radio.

(Photo: MTI / Zoltán Máthé)

The U.S. Embassy in Hungary said in a statement the United States is “troubled” by the law, as it “unfairly burdens a targeted group of Hungarian civil society organizations, many of which focus on fighting corruption and protecting human rights and civil liberties.”

“As compared to the Americans we are soft and polite,” Orbán said in the interview, according to Hungarian online news portal index.hu. Orbán stressed the government only wants transparency, adding he does not understand that “if somebody is not ashamed to take the money, why are they ashamed to admit to it.”

However, civil organizations active in Hungary has criticized the law, implying it is demonizing their work unnecessarily, as NGOs in Hungary already make their finance sheets available on their websites and in annual reports.

The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ) said in a press statement issued directly after the law was passed that the legislation goes against the Fundamental Law (constitution) of Hungary. TASZ said it believes the best and most efficient action against the “unlawful” legislation is to apply civil disobedience, which means it will not act according to the amended law.

In related to this, Orbán said that in the Hungarian legal system, there is no such thing as civil disobedience. He insisted that the civil sector must abide by the law too. He added that, should civil organizations not abide the laws, the authorities will make sure they do.