"Hungary and the Hungarian people are being condemned because they proved that migration can be stopped and there is no need for migration", Szajer said. But it was still unclear whether the 751-strong would be able to muster the two-thirds majority needed to pass the censure motion, which accuses of breaching core European Union values.
In a brief speech to parliament on Tuesday, Orban vowed that Hungary would resist any attempt to "blackmail" it into softening its anti-migrant stance, which he charged was the motive behind the vote.
Dutch Greens MEP Judith Sargentini, who spearheaded the vote, smiled broadly and breathed a sigh of relief before embracing her supporters in parliament in the French city of Strasbourg.
Szijjarto said Hungary was considering legal options to appeal the result because of the way the vote was tallied.
"If there is a serious problem, and to some extent we do understand and share some concerns mentioned in the report, the right way would be to go through the European Commission and not the European Parliament, which is why we voted the way we did", Plenković said.
Several non-governmental organizations targeted by the Orban government with restrictive rules - including a special tax on activities considered as promoting immigration and the criminalization of the aiding of asylum-seekers and refugees - also hailed the vote's outcome. We'll speak with Mounk about the parliament's decision and how right-wing coalitions are shaping Europe.
A breach of EU values justifies a reaction at EU level and this is what the procedure under Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union aims to achieve.
Most British Conservative MEPs supported the Hungarian government, arguing that the European Union had intruded into purely national matters.
"I have always been in favor of building bridges and I want to continue to do so, but yesterday (Tuesday) I didn't see any readiness from the Hungarian PM to make a move towards his European Union partners and address our concerns", Manfred tweeted.
The group may now consider whether to suspend Orban's Fidesz party.
Responding to the minister's remarks, the CEU issued a statement on Thursday reiterating that it has "always conformed to the Hungarian laws, and now fulfils the requirements of the Hungarian legislation on higher education" passed in March 2017.
Sargentini said she expected to be invited by the council to present her report and wants European parliament president Antonio Tajani to help her with that.
Orban, whose right-wing Fidesz party has governed Hungary since 2010 and was re-elected in April for a third consecutive term on a strongly anti-immigrant platform, is playing a long-term political game in Europe.
His refusal to budge this time cost him support in the EPP conservative grouping, which includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, who have criticised some of Orban's policies.