Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban has called for European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova to resign over what he says are “derogatory comments” about democracy in the country.

A letter from Orban to EU chief Ursula von der Leyen was tweeted by the former’s spokesman Zoltan Kovacs, in which he said that Jourova’s comments were “inappropriate and unacceptable” and a “blatant violation” of the principle of “sincere cooperation”.

His comments came after Jourova was interviewed by German magazine Der Spiegel this week. Her comments translate as: “Mr Orbán says often that he builds an illiberal democracy. I would say he builds a sick democracy.”

Orban’s government have repeatedly clashed with EU institutions in Brussels in recent years over the government’s policies towards the judiciary, media and academic institutions.

Hungary is currently subject to the Article 7 process, which was triggered by the European Parliament in 2018 over alleged abuses of core EU values. The process is still underway and could mean that Budapest’s voting rights are rescinded.

The EU is currently preparing a report on rule of law and is also looking at tying EU funding to respect of said values in the new trillion-euro coronavirus recovery package.

It is not the first time Hungary has demanded an EU commissioner’s resignation. In 2017, Orban called for Commissioner Frans Timmermans to resign after saying the Hungarian leader’s comments about billionaire philanthropist George Soros were driven by antisemitism.

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