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January 18, 2012

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has told EU lawmakers he will modify controversial laws that are the subject of legal action against Budapest launched by the European Commission.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaking in parliament
Orban was conciliatory in StrasbourgImage: dapd

EU concerns over Hungary's laws on its central bank and judiciary can be resolved swiftly, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Wednesday in an effort to avert legal action by Brussels and win much-needed financial aid from the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Orban told the European Parliament in Strasbourg that fixing the issues that led the bloc's executive to launch legal proceedings against his country "will not pose a problem."

The Prime Minister's Fidesz party has faced criticism for tightening control over public institutions including the judiciary, central bank and data protection agency, as well as the media.

Defending policies

Orban urged the EU to take into account that his country is undergoing a "serious transformation" after being on the brink of collapse two years ago.

"What's happening in our country is a very exciting process of renewal," Orban told the Parliament. "It is absolutely understandable that there are debates in conjunction with that." He added he hoped talks next week with EU executive chief Jose Manuel Barroso would yield quick results.

Barroso urged Orban's government to demonstrate its commitment to democracy.

"I strongly appeal to the Hungarian authorities to respect the very principles of democracy and freedom, and to implement them not only in the norms but also in the practice and in the political and social life in this country," he said.

Author: Dagmar Breitenbach (Reuters, AFP, dpa)
Editor: Michael Lawton