Corruption claims could spell the end, says European Parliament critic, adding: ‘Drain the swamp’ | World | News

Corruption allegations that have rocked the European Parliament have the potential to completely destroy the assembly, claimed one eurosceptic leader, declaring to “drain the swamp”. Brussels reels after the arrest of four officials – including Greek MEP Eva Kaili, who denies all wrongdoing – in connection with claims they accepted a bribe from a Middle Eastern country widely believed to be the World Cup host nation qatar is.

Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary and the leader of the right-wing Fidesz party, used his annual international press conference in Budapest to question the institution’s credibility – and call for its abolition.

The highly controversial leader said: “The Hungarians would like to see the European Parliament dissolved in its current form.

“The extent to which the reputation of the European Parliament in Hungary has been damaged by the scandal is easy to answer: not at all, because it could not have been lower.”

The three-hour meeting is almost the only occasion of the year when Mr Orban answers questions from the international media or critical Hungarian media.

The populist leader, who won a fourth straight term in office in April, has had multiple battles with the EU, which accuses him of violating democratic norms and overseeing large-scale official corruption.

But today he hit back, lashing out at the European Parliament for recent revelations of a corruption scandal involving money for favors, and borrowing a sentence from former US President Donald Trump and ally, saying it was time to “drain the swamp dry” in Brussels.

The press conference came after the EU froze more than €12 billion in funding to Hungary over concerns that Mr Orbán’s government has suppressed the independence of the judiciary, monitored official corruption and curtailed minority rights.

In September, the European Parliament said Hungary could no longer be considered a democracy and would become “a hybrid regime of electoral autocracy” under Orban’s leadership – a charge his government vehemently denies.

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Adding to the tensions between Budapest and Brussels is the Hungarian government’s lobby against the sanctions against Moscow over the war in Ukraine.

Mr Orban is considered one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies within the EU27.

He insisted he would not support additional sanctions, adding: “If it were up to us, there would be no sanctions policy.

“It is not in our interest to permanently divide the European and Russian economies in two, so we are trying to salvage what can be salvaged from our economic cooperation with the Russians.”

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Orban has made some concessions to secure the delivery of much-needed EU funds, but the European Commission – the bloc’s executive arm, led by President Ursula von der Leyen, has pushed for further reforms if Budapest is to gain access to the money .

Hungary has one of the highest inflation rates in Europe and a floundering currency that has caused skyrocketing prices.

In November, inflation exceeded 22 percent and the forint fell nearly 10 percent against the euro since the start of the year.

Mr Orban said the government has plans to bring inflation down to single digits by December next year, and will soon unveil a program that will abolish income tax until the age of 30 for women who have children.

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