Constitutional dialogue and facilitating international relations are of essential importance for safeguarding our national identity. The Constitutional Court of Hungary was one of the first constitutional courts to put forward this idea in the European Union. Maintaining and expanding the dialogue was the aim of the event initiated and organised for the third time by the Constitutional Court with the participation of the representatives of the diplomatic corps in Hungary. 45 embassies accredited to Budapest were represented at the event held in the House of Traditions.

In his presentation, Tamás Sulyok, the President of the Constitutional Court provided a summary of the most important decisions and events of the past year. He underlined, among others, that the Constitutional Court of Hungary is actively engaged in maintaining and developing the dialogue with the European Courts and the Venice Commission. He informed the diplomats about the efforts made by the Constitutional Court to organise and take part at events that may attract wide scale international attention, he presented the results achieved in this field, and he also demonstrated some cases that deal with issues of international importance.

The president underlined: “the Constitutional Court of Hungary has always had good relations with the European Court of Human Rights and the Venice Commission, to which Hungary had joined in 1992.” As examples of the cooperation, Tamás Sulyok mentioned that Péter Paczolay the former President of the Constitutional Court is the honorary president of the Venice Commission; András Varga Zs. Justice of the Constitutional Court is a member of the Commission, and the Constitutional Court has constant professional links to the Venice Commission and to other constitutional courts through a designated contact person.

In the framework of this cooperation, three times a year, the Constitutional Court sends a summary of the most important decisions, delivered in the relevant period, to the public CODICES database operated by the Venice Commission. This collection significantly contributes to the professional dialogue and cooperation on European level by making the case law of the European constitutional courts accessible and searchable.

The President of the Constitutional Court provided an account of the past years’ increasing role of the institution in the dialogue within the European Union by organising bilateral meetings for the purpose of strengthening professional and personal links and to get acquainted with the decisions and the works of other constitutional courts. On bilateral meetings with the constitutional courts of Serbia, Romania, the Czech Republic and Austria, the Constitutional Court discussed various questions related to fundamental rights, and our institution also represented itself in the past year at several multilateral meetings and conferences in Warsaw, Bratislava, Kosice, Saint Petersburg, Bucharest, Riga, Prague, Baku, Andorra la Vella, Seoul and Madrid.

As a very important milestone decision of the past year, the President of the Constitutional Court provided a summary of the judgement delivered in the Szalontay vs Hungary case. Accordingly, one may turn to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) only after exhausting all potential effective Hungarian legal remedies – suitable for remedying the injury of rights. For various reasons, the ECHR has not considered for long the procedure of the Constitutional Court as an effective remedy. However, due to the introduction of the so-called real constitutional complaint applicable against court judgements and designed to provide a remedy for individual grievances, the change of the ECHR’s position was only a question of time.

The ECHR stated expressis verbis in the Szalontay vs Hungary case: “it has not seen any obstacle of the applicant turning to the Constitutional Court for an effective remedy of his grievance”. Namely: the procedure of the Constitutional Court is a possibility for providing effective remedy that needs to be exhausted before turning to the ECHR.

In his closing remarks, Tamás Sulyok pointed out: “The protection of fundamental rights should be our priority and our common goal. At the same time, the effective protection of fundamental rights is impossible without protecting the national identity of the Member States. It is our indispensable duty to be engaged in a continuous dialogue for the protection of fundamental rights and our national identity.”

Please find the full presentation of the President attached here >>