BUDAPEST, Hungary -- The chief of staff for Hungary's prime minister launched more criticism Thursday of a European Union report that found flaws with the state of the rule of law and democracy in the country, and said the Hungarian government would no longer negotiate with an EU commissioner.
Gergely Gulyas, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff, accused the executive European Commission of applying “double standards” in its treatment of the bloc's 27 member nations.
The report the commission released Wednesday said the prosecution of high-level corruption in Hungary “remains very limited” and pointed to government-sponsored laws undermining media, academic and religious freedom, as well as minority rights.
“The latest report of the rule of law by the European Commission highlights that we can’t talk about the rule of law but the rule of blackmail,” Gulyas said at a news conference.
Hungary often faces EU criticism over the Orban government's populist policies. Before the report came out, EU Values Commissioner Vera Jurova said in an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel magazine that Orban "is establishing an ill democracy."
Jurova cited a lack in Hungarian media of views critical of the government, which she said limits citizens' ability to form independent opinions.
Gulyas described the comments as “grossly offensive," and said Hungary would no longer negotiate with Jurova in bilateral relations and wants her replaced.
“The position of the Hungarian government is that the European Union cannot have any leaders who speaks disrespectfully and contemptuously, and even with contempt, about any member state of the European Union and especially its citizens.," he said.