Orban: We have all the tools to protect Hungary from migration

Hungary’s government and parliament have all the tools they need to protect the country from migration, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday.

In his regular interview to public Kossuth Radio, Orban said that Hungary still needed a well-equipped military irrespective of the migration issue. If Hungary faced an armed threat today, its military would only have a limited capability to counter it, the prime minister argued.

Orban called the “Stop Soros” package of laws and related constitutional amendments approved by parliament this week “nice, sophisticated pieces of legal work”. He said it would be “very difficult” for anyone to find fault in a parliamentary decision that had been supported by 80-90 percent of lawmakers.

Orban noted that both decisions had been among the campaign promises of the ruling Fidesz-Christian Democrat parties in the runup to this April’s general election.

The new constitutional amendment declares Hungary’s national sovereignty “unbreakable”, defines the country’s constitutional identity and the penal code makes illegal migration and support for it punishable criminal offences, the prime minister noted.

He said there was “nothing wrong” with civil groups wanting to exercise political influence in Hungary, adding, however, that they had a duty to declare any foreign funding they receive. But when it comes to migration, which he said Hungary considered a national security issue, the government does not accept NGOs wanting to influence policymakers, Orban added.

As regards the European debate on migration, the prime minister said there were three main questions on the EU’s agenda: border protection, the future of migrants already in Europe and the question of who should be allowed to enter the bloc moving forward and where authorities should separate genuine refugees and economic migrants. The central European countries believe this last issue should be dealt with outside the EU’s borders, he added.

Orban said there were three sides within the EU with varying views on migration. One is the Visegrad Group comprising Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, now “joined by” Austria and Italy. The second is Germany, which has its own internal disagreements on the issue and the third are northern member states which Orban said were locked in their own heated debates.

The prime minister also touched on Thursday’s V4-Austria summit, saying that the V4 alliance had never been as strong as it is now. “In fact, we are the engine of Europe’s economy,” he said. And on migration, the V4 have always said that Europe should provide help to others “without destroying ourselves”, he added. “Time has shown that this approach was the right one.”

In connection with the Budapest visit of the European Council president on Friday, Orban said Donald Tusk had “reached out to us” after the European Commission decided to convene an EU “mini-summit” on migration for Sunday in Brussels.

But since the council president is the only one with the authority to convene a high-level meeting of EU heads of state and government this whole affair shows that EU institutions operate improperly, Orban said, adding that his talks with Tusk would most certainly address this issue.

As regards next week’s EU summit, Orban said its main focus would be on migration, adding that he would welcome if issues on which there is consensus among member states featured high on the agenda.

Concerning debates surrounding his ruling Fidesz party’s membership in the European People’s Party (EPP), Orban said having such debates “is just normal”, adding that Hungary’s interest lay in a strong, united EPP.

Asked whether Hungary’s 2019 budget should be redrafted in light of fresh inflation outlook data, Orban said the answer is a “definite no”, adding that the outlook for higher inflation did not justify any correction. He explained that global oil prices are among the biggest factors affecting Hungary’s CPI at present, and the budget can’t be planned based on such a “volatile” factor. A range for inflation has to be determined and the budget should be based on the median of that range; that provides stability, he added. Orban noted that pension increases are already linked to inflation, providing those Hungarians especially sensitive to price changes additional security. He reiterated that the 2019 budget bill contains significantly higher reserves because of “signs of crisis looming on the horizon”, citing the risk of rising interest rates, trade wars and high rates of public debt among some EU member states.

Source and photo: MTI

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