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Nobody can interfere with legislative process: Hungary PM

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(BUDAPEST) - Nobody can interfere with Hungary's legislative process, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban declared Friday as lawmakers were set to adopt a series of internationally-criticised laws.

"Nobody can interfere with Hungarian legislative work, there is no one in the world who might tell the elected deputies of the Hungarian people which act to pass and which not to," Orban said on Hungarian public radio MR1-Kossuth.

His remark came after the head of the European Union (EU) executive Jose Manuel Barroso had demanded in a letter written to Orban to withdraw contested legislation that critics said sought to increase government influence in monetary policy.

In addition, US State Secretary Hillary Clinton has repeatedly expressed her concern over the state of democracy in Hungary.

The disputed legislation has nevertheless sailed through parliament dominated by Orban's centre right Fidesz party, and the measures to be voted into law on Friday.

Hungary can ill-afford to anger its international partners at a time when it seek is seeking a 15-20 billion-euro credit line from the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In a policy U-turn, Orban turned to the IMF and EU for help in mid-November after Hungary had difficulties borrowing on the bond markets and its currency fell drastically against the euro.

The lenders however walked out on preliminary talks on December 16 over the draft legislation that sought to increase the government's influence over monetary policy.

"The talks with the IMF are foreseen to kick off in the beginning of January," Orban said. He added that the talks were "important but not essential".

The EU and the IMF have yet to confirm the start of the negotiations.

Moody's and Standard & Poor's have downgraded Hurgary's bonds to junk status and investors are now demanding returns of over nine percent to lend to the government, while forint has fallen 20 percent against the euro.


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