The United States government is “deeply” concerned about the impact Hungarian government decision-making is having on the country’s democratic institutions, Thomas O. Melia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, said in an interview to news website hvg.hu.
In the interview published late on Friday, Melia, head of the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, said that Hungary had passed several laws which eroded checks and balances.
Melia said changes to bills had been made at the last minute without being properly debated beforehand and without consultation of the opposition or experts. Citing as an example, he said a law which could undermine the independence of central bank had been tabled without consultation of central-bank leaders.
“A draft law which would curb the power of the central bank is the latest in a series of measures that add to the worries the US government has over Hungary,” he said.
This practice “may undermine an institution central to the working of the free market,” he told hvg.hu.
A delegation of the IMF and the EU interrupted informal talks with Hungary on a precautionary loan on Friday in connection with legislation governing the central bank.
“Hungary’s ruling party’s action of filling the judiciary with its own people also threatens the independence of that branch of the state,” Melia added.
Melia told another news portal origo.hu late on Friday that the US was worried over the ongoing transformation of the judicial system in Hungary. In response to Fidesz parliamentary group leader Janos Lazar’s announcement on Friday that the church laws would be repealed for “technical reasons”, Melia said he was eagerly awaiting the new proposal. He added that the US administration had been worried about the law’s structure and its possible impact on religious communities.
He also repeated earlier concerns over Hungary’s constitution and the way it had been submitted and adopted, with little involvement from other parties, as well as passage of the media law.