Hungary does not promote an anti-immigration stand but wants to see more sensible immigration policies in Europe, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has said after meeting European Union leaders and European People’s Party president Joseph Daul in Brussels. In the meantime Fidesz has proposed that procedures for asylum seekers should be speeded up drastically.
“We have clarified the Hungarian position on immigration, making it clear that we reject the European radical right’s approach,” Orbán told the Hungarian public media after the meeting. The current European regulations on immigration, however, are not sensible, he said. “We asked them to accept that Hungary is unwilling to become a target country for immigrants.”
Orbán said the route of “economic immigrants” from the Balkans crosses Hungary and “for this reason the Hungarian approach should be important to all European countries”. If Hungary fails to handle the issue properly, these immigrants will sooner or later arrive in Western Europe, he said. “I propose developing a new European immigration policy as soon as possible.” During the next EU summit discussions on the issue could yield concrete results.
Fidesz proposes shorter procedure for refugees
The ruling Fidesz party has proposed that procedures for asylum seekers should be speeded up drastically. Lajos Kósa, the party’s deputy chairman, said certain procedures could be handled in a matter of a few days. The categories of a so-called secure country of dispatch and a secure third country would be employed, and those who arrive in Hungary as asylum seekers from such countries on this government list could be “turned back immediately”.
Kósa said current EU regulations do not take the points of view of transit countries into consideration. The Greek, Italian, Maltese, Spanish and Portuguese authorities also share this standpoint, he added. “If we don’t deal with the problem at this stage then a xenophobic wave could sweep across Europe, and this would obviously be exploited by far-right political forces.”
In the past few years, the number of refugees arriving in Hungary has grown dramatically, rising from 2,300-2,500 in 2012 to 42,000 last year, he said. In 2014, only 500 received refugee status. Kósa added that 95% of those arriving in Hungary were of “Islamic identity”, most being from Kosovo, Syria and Afghanistan.
His proposal was greeted with derision from green opposition LMP leader András Schiffer, who called the idea of shortening an asylum procedure “nonsense”. Schiffer said that currently there would be no possibility of legal enforcement for reducing the procedure from 30 days to three. Indeed, the plan did not take into account those asylum seekers who, since they had just escaped from their country, were so traumatised that often they could not even speak. In such cases it would be impossible to determine whether there is any basis for their application for asylum in such a short time, he said.
Residency bonds not to be confused with economic migration: Rogán
Residency bond buyers should not be confused with economic migrants, the ruling Fidesz parliamentary group leader has told business daily Napi Gazdaság. One is a scheme to attract investors and the latter falls under immigration policy, Antal Rogán said. If Germany, Britain or any other country has labour issues due to the expansion of the European Union, these should be primarily resolved within the common market, he said. The internal migration of workers benefits the EU, which is why it would be worth restricting external immigration, Rogán said, adding that a stricter approach is needed than the policies of the left wing. “I believe the expectation is justified that if we create jobs these should go to Hungarians who do not have a secure source of income.” The residency bond scheme is not an immigration issue but an opportunity for foreign exchange financing, he said, adding that on EUR 500 million of residency bonds purchased so far, the Hungarian state has an interest advantage that represents nearly HUF 20 billion of profit.
Terror threat “remote’
There is no current direct threat of a terror attack in Hungary, government and opposition MPs agreed after a meeting to assess national security aspects of the recent Paris attacks. The government has all the means to protect citizens and the fight against terrorism is not hampered by finances, members of the defence and security committee said after government, police and secret service briefings. The counter-terrorism centre (TEK) is working effectively together with the police and secret services in Europe and beyond, they added. Chairman of the committee Zsolt Molnár (Socialist) said before the meeting that his party sees no connection between economic migration and terrorism. The majority of Muslims think in terms of peaceful coexistence, and a parallel should not be drawn between terrorism and Islam, he added. Deputy chair of the committee Szilárd Németh (Fidesz) said Hungary was not under threat of terror but there were risks posed by illegal migration. Of the 43,000 illegal immigrants last year, a considerable number leave their home in search of better financial conditions, mostly people from the Western Balkans, Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea, Németh said. Parliament has serious legislative tasks ahead to address this situation, he added.
Majority of Hungarians want tighter immigration rules
Two-thirds of Hungarians want the country’s immigration rules to be tightened, and a majority think the European Union is incapable of protecting its citizens from a similar attack to the Paris terrorist massacre, according to a survey by think-tank Századvég. The survey that appeared in business daily Napi Gazdaság shows that almost all respondents were aware of the attack in Paris this month. Fully 70% considered Hungary’s immigration law to be too lenient and wanted rules to be made stricter. This view cuts across political affiliation: 56% of left-wing supporters shared it, 65% of centrists approved of tightening regulations and 59% of undecided voters did so. Altogether 85% of right-wing voters were in favour, Századvég said. Based on the survey done between January 12 and 17, 61% thought the EU was not up to the task of protecting citizens from attack.
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