EU institutions – the European Parliament and the European Commission in particular – use advisory bodies as a means to exert political pressure, Justice Minister László Trócsányi said in an interview he gave the Polish conservative monthly WPIS.

The interview published in the edition of the Krakow periodical released this week was made on the occasion of the Hungarian Minister’s visit to Poland at the beginning of April.

In the interview Mr Trócsányi, who was a substitute member for Hungary of the Venice Commission for years, analysed the role of the advisory body of the Council of Europe on constitutional matters in the context of the dispute which emerged in connection with the status of the Polish Constitutional Court, pointing out: the body which was set up at the time of the beginning of the change of regime in Central- and Eastern-Europe with an advisory function has recently assumed with increasing regularity "the role of opinion-maker and critic, rather than confining its contribution to an advisory function”.  

"This leads us to the essence of the matter, the very concept of democracy”, the Minister continued, highlighting: at present, we do not always receive clear answers to the key questions of democracy. Namely, to questions such as what authorisation the European institutions have, who determines their composition, and from where they obtained their right to exercise power.

"Democracy and observing the principles of the rule of law are fundamental requirements”, Mr Trócsányi pointed out, remarking at the same time: the question arises "who is entitled to form the leading view on values”. The Minister mentioned among these values the relationship between the State and churches, the concept of family or marriage, and the method a given country adopts for protecting its constitution.

The Venice Commission is not a court that passes judgements, but an advisory body whose opinion "can be taken into consideration, but it is in no way binding”. In Europe today – in particular, on the part of the European Commission and the European Parliament – we may observe measures which indicate that opinions of this kind are used as a certain element of exerting political pressure and as a means to confirm the thesis previously put forward as a premise”, Mr Trócsányi said in summary.

The dispute regarding the Polish Constitutional Court, similar to the former Hungarian constitutional disputes and the disputes which concerned the Hungarian Constitutional Court, "is a purely internal affair”, the Minister took the view. He pointed out: Hungary carried out changes independently, without yielding to external pressure, while "conducting a constructive dialogue with the European Commission and taking its decisions into consideration at all times”.

Regarding the 2011 Hungarian Constitution, Mr Trócsányi said: this Fundamental Law replaced the approach of the 1968 generation, which put individual freedom first, whilst attaching lesser significance to national identity, with "a completely new mentality” in European terms. „Individual freedom is very important, but there is also responsibility for the community”, the Minister pointed out, emphasising the importance of striking the balance between these two types of freedom.

In answer to a question about Central- and Eastern-European cooperation which is also based on shared values, Mr Trócsányi argued: living together in Europe does not have to revolve solely around the Berlin-Paris axis. In our region, too, "we must hold consultations which should also have an impact on European decisions”. Regarding traditional Polish-Hungarian relations and the year of Polish-Hungarian solidarity this year on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian revolution and the Poznan uprising, the Minister said: "naturally, there are certain things we see differently, but we agree on the important matters”.

(Ministry of Justice)