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Jun 25, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

This is why the ongoing national consultation’s questions on migration will make a difference

In question number 12 and 13, we are asking citizens whether the government should continue to stand up against immigration, even at the price of an open conflict with Brussels.

With the latest national consultation surveys already sent out to voters, this is the ninth time in the last 10 years that we’re asking for citizens’ direct input on issues that matter. This time, it’s about the coronavirus crisis, restarting Hungary’s economy and immigration.

Although we anticipated that our questions, particularly the ones on immigration, would provoke some criticism among those in Brussels, the responses we heard were telling.

Here’s the question that triggered the European Commission:

“Brussels is preparing an offensive against the immigration-related regulations of the Hungarian constitution. They want to force us to amend the Fundamental Law’s articles that prevent migration. Do you agree that the Hungarian government must insist on its anti-immigration rules even at the price of an open conflict with Brussels?”

In a press conference two weeks ago, EU Commissioner for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová called the above question “fake news.” While it might have touched a nerve with Brussels, that doesn’t make it any less true. Let’s look at the facts.

In contrast to Jourová’s statement, since 2015, the European Commission has been actively involved in systematically undermining our efforts aimed at strengthening border security and keeping migrants out. The Commission, for example, has launched a political offensive against our border fence and worked closely with NGOs that don’t just support but also organize illegal migration. It additionally launched legal proceedings against Hungary at the European Court of Justice due to Hungary’s alleged “detention” of migrants in the transit zone, a case it pushed through even though another court had already handed down a contrary decision.

The European Commission’s intention to get rid of our constitution’s anti-immigration guarantees could hardly be considered “fake news,” as they have clearly refused to accept the Hungarian Fundamental Law’s “first safe country” principle on granting asylum. According to these rules, asylum seekers are supposed to request asylum in the first safe country they reach; a country is considered safe if asylum seekers are no longer under threat of persecution there.

Had migrants requested asylum in the first safe country, Iranian and Afghan nationals, for example, would have never reached Hungary’s landlocked border. The fact that they did means that they didn’t play by the rules. And, according to the Hungarian constitution, there’s no asylum for those who don’t play by the rules – a part of our constitution concerning migration that, again, the European Commission blatantly opposes.

These are just a few examples. I could go on.

Brussels has repeatedly made it clear that it aims to break down the protection of Europe’s borders and take away tools from countries, including Hungary, that stand up against the European Commission and its agenda to promote illegal migration. Nothing “fake” about it.

It is our task to call Hungarians’ attention to this and ask for their opinions and guidance. And this is precisely why the ongoing national consultation’s questions on migration will make a difference.