EU warns Hungary's Orban of a 'fight' if he pushes for death penalty
BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
AFP PhotoEuropean Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on April 30 warned Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban he faces a "fight" if he reintroduces the death penalty in his EU country.
"Mr. Orban should immediately make clear that this is not his intention and would it be his intention, it would be a fight," Juncker told a press conference, stressing that the EU charter forbids the death penalty in the 28-nation bloc.
Orban called April 28 for a debate on reintroducing the death penalty in Hungary, saying existing penalties were too soft.
Orban's comments immediately sparked a sharp response after a series of spats with Brussels over his hardline stance on human rights and civil society norms, key values for the European Union.
An EU source said April 28 that if Orban does get the death penalty reintroduced, then the bloc "might suspend certain rights for Hungary, such as the right to vote in the European Council", which groups the leaders of the bloc.
"Everyone is now mobilised against Orban (on this) so it is not going to happen," said the source, who asked not to be identified.
Orban's call for a debate on capital punishment followed remarks last week when he described the EU stand on immigration as "stupid" just after hundreds of migrants seeking to get to Europe died in the Mediterranean.
The right-wing Orban, premier for five years, has been losing ground recently to the extreme-right Jobbik party which supports the death penalty and is strongly anti-immigration.
Hungary abolished capital punishment after the end of communism in 1990 and under EU protocols -- it joined the bloc in 2004 -- cannot bring it back.