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In the Face of Suffering Setbacks, Hungary’s Orban Remains Defiant on Migration

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has proposed that in a bid to curb irregular migration, all refugees should be kept outside EU territory while having their asylum application processed. He added that his government would not partake in any migrant distribution scheme across the bloc either — claiming that most migrants didn’t meet European standards on shared values.

Orban told a number news outlets, including Germany’s Bild and Welt daily newspapers, that countries in the European Union had varying attitudes towards refugees and migrants, and that this was the reason why his suggestion would not gain support across the bloc.

He highlighted that while Germany, on the whole, had a positive attitude toward migration, Hungarians considered a loose approach in asylum issues too risky.

The conservative politician further stressed that in Hungary, there was a clear distinction between so-called guest workers and migrants. In his impression, Germany did not differentiate socially in this way.

Hungary does not want to have “communities that do not respect our most important European values,” he added. 

Hypocrisy as a political identity?

Orban went on to say that those values include a rejection of antisemitism and the support of equal rights.

He also said that there was no place for homophobia in Europe, suggesting that migrants inherently hold views against members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Meanwhile however, Hungary’s government has itself come under fire for introducing homophobic laws and carrying out political campaigns with overtly antisemitic undertones.

In 2021, the country introduced a law that limits the availability of information on sexuality and gender identity other than those based on heteronormative ideas to underage individuals.

This has ultimately resulted in the EU holding back €22 billion in funds for Hungary until its government meets conditions related LGBTQ+ rights, which Orban considers “political blackmail” on part of the EU. Other reasons for the funds being withheld include limits to academic freedom.

In 2018, the Hungarian government signed a bill that has since become known as the ‘Stop Soros Law. It is named after Hungarian-American businessman George Soros, whose influence in Hungary Orban has been seeking to curb.

Soros leads a network of NGOs as well as academic institutions in the country promoting a pluralistic society, liberal values and a welcoming attitude towards migrants.

In particular, Hungary’s notorious ‘Stop Soros Law’ makes the provision of assistance to migrants who arrived in the country irregularly illegal. 

But Orban and his government aren’t simply opposed to Soros on ground of his philanthropic work in aid of migrants; according to Canadian anthropologist Ivan Kalmar, Soros’ “most outspoken enemies inside and outside Hungary” have been perpetuating antisemitic tropes, painting him as the leader of “an international cabal that included other Jews such as the Rothschilds, as well as Freemasons and Illuminati.”

EU withholding billions from Hungary

In the interview, Orban also explained why his country rejected the asylum compromise negotiated in early June by EU interior ministers and why his country would neither participate in the distribution of refugees across the bloc nor make any compensation payments to the EU for refusing to partake in the mechanism.

Orban added that Hungary was already spending more than €2 billion to stop what he repeatedly referred to as “illegal immigrants” from entering the EU’s Schengen area, underscoring the fact that his government was yet to receive “a single cent from Brussels” for this.

He claimed that when the EU says it will distribute migrants across the EU in the future in order to share the burden across member states, this would send a message to smugglers that their business model is working.

According to Orban, tragic disasters like the sinking of a boat with hundreds of refugees off the Greek coast can only be prevented in the future by making clear to all people seeking to come to the EU using irregular means that “(y)ou cannot enter the territory of the European Union without a decision on your application.”

Orban’s unwavering stance on the migration issue could, however, have repercussions on his own country’s economy as well: The Fitch Ratings agency issued a warning that Hungary’s refusal to get in line with the EU on a number of issues, including migration in particular, would create lasting reputational damage, which could ultimately affect its credibility and even its international rating.

Fitch has so far affirmed Hungary’s credit rating at “BBB” level, stressing in its latest revision last week, however, that the country had a negative outlook. Investors use credit rating agencies like Fitch to predict a country’s ability to pay back the debt.

“Not having access to this [EU] fund, not being able to agree on certain reforms with the Commission, that would be definitely undermining the credibility of the policy of the government,” said Fitch’s Associate Director Malgorzata Krzywicka.

Orban damaging own brand

Orban’s rejection of the EU asylum compromise doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. However, if he agreed to cooperate on the plan, his political brand might actually be strengthened and reinforced:

The compromise includes several measures designed to limit irregular migration into the EU — especially from countries that are considered to be relatively safe.

Asylum applications from migrants who come from countries with a recognition rate of less than 20% will therefore be examined at the EU’s external borders within 12 weeks, echoing aspects of Orban’s own suggested approach.

During this 12-week period, asylum seekers will be kept in strictly controlled reception facilities while their applications are being processed. Moreover, the plan stipulates that applicants without a chance of being given asylum will be sent back immediately.

The EU Parliament is yet to discuss the suggested plan later this week and might add changes to the final wording of the law it results in.

Source : Info Migrants