Invited to respond to questions from MEPs meeting in Strasbourg on 18 January, the Hungarian Prime Minister pledged to change controversial legislation in his country but avoided discussing more profound criticisms focused on his failure to respect democratic values.

Orbán “won the debate with his bitter critics,” remarks pro-government dailyMagyar Hìrlap, which takes issue with-

… the MEPs of the IMF coalition who were briefed with material prepared by the opposition in Budapest. […] The Prime Minister refused to accept European diktats, but demonstrated that he is open to dialogue on all subjects. However, his European approach is of no interest to the ranks of the European faction of the IMF […] which speaks in a democratic voice, but is ruled by the law of the monetary fund.

[Népszava devotes its front page](http:// to what it describes as “a dialogue of the deaf in Strasbourg.” For the opposition daily:

Orbán pretended not to understand the reasons why he has been criticised in Europe. […] As usual, he resorted to a mixture of demagogic platitudes and defence of the motherland.

“Everyone took political sides in a partisan debate,” regrets the newspaper, which highlighted the example of the support for Orbán voiced by Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who deplored “the hysterical atmosphere in the European parliament on the question of Hungary.”