Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban faced criticism in the European Parliament for saying Hungary should consider introducing the death penalty.
“Any talk about it is dangerous and damaging,” Manfred Weber, German leader of the 28-nation Parliament’s Christian Democratic group, which includes members of Orban’s Fidesz party, said on Tuesday in Strasbourg, France, during a debate that the Hungarian leader attended.
Politicians across the European Union, which bars capital punishment, have lashed out at Orban for reacting in late April to the murder of a tobacco-shop saleswoman in Hungary by saying the country should “keep the death penalty on the agenda.” The comments prompted the 751-seat EU Parliament to arrange Tuesday’s debate.
“We can have a debate about the death penalty and it can be very short,” said Sophie in ’t Veld, a Dutch member of the EU Parliament’s Liberal faction. “I reject it completely, my group rejects it completely. It has no place in Europe.”
Frans Timmermans, principal vice president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, threatened to pursue “far-reaching” sanctions against Hungary under the bloc’s treaty should the country move to introduce capital punishment.
“The commission is ready to use immediately all the means at its disposal to ensure that Hungary, as well as any other member state, complies with its obligations under union law,” Timmermans said.
Orban intervened in the debate, saying the outrage at his comments reflected EU efforts to limit open debate in Hungary.
“Hungarians talk straight about tough things,” Orban said. “We talk straight about the death penalty.”