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Oct 06, 2016

PM Viktor Orbán’s press conference, October 4, 2016 [full text in English]

Budapest, October 4, 2016

A warm welcome from me also, and to you, parliamentary group leader.

Today the parliamentary groups of Fidesz and the Christian Democratic People’s Party had to decide how to act in light of the fact that 98 per cent of those casting valid votes in the referendum on 2 October said “no” to compulsory resettlement and relocation. In our view this is the kind of political will and unity which has never before been made so clear on any issue. Furthermore, this is a unity – let’s call it a new unity, and it certainly is – which has not emerged on a party issue, but on an issue which, practically everyone agrees, transcends party politics. This a new kind of national cause. And this is an opinion shared by many who perhaps support other political parties and who received from those parties different directions on how they should act on 2 October. The number of those voting “no” on Sunday was one million more than the traditional voter base of Fidesz and the Christian Democratic People’s Party; this clearly indicates that people did not view this as a party political issue, but as a national issue, a national cause. And they acted accordingly. So what should we do with this newfound unity for a national cause? What should we do with the newly established unity that has emerged in Hungary?

The first thing our parliamentary group determined today is that we are bound by such a unanimous expression of will, because in Hungary there are 3 million 300 thousand people who have decided that they will not allow others to decide instead of us on a question – the question of resettlement and migrants – which we feel is crucially important. It would also be no exaggeration to conclude that these almost three-and-a-half million people agree with the philosophy and basic principle that aid should be taken to where the problems exist. So it is my firm belief that these people did not vote against the migrants, but for a suitable method of handling this mass migration movement of the modern era. I also think that these people, this new unity, cannot be seen as hostile to the European Union. This is because I – who am part of this new community, this new unity – am personally convinced that when we are protecting Hungary against illegal immigration we are also protecting Europe. And so what should we do in this situation?

The first step we must take is for the National Assembly to ratify the decision of the people. In fact there are three possible forms this can take: a parliamentary resolution; a simple piece of legislation; or amendment of the Fundamental Law. In our opinion, the importance of the issue, the fact that it concerns Hungary’s culture, national identity – or, if you like, constitutional identity, constitutional nature – and sense of self, suggest that the right thing to do is to incorporate the relevant regulation in the Constitution, or rather the Fundamental Law. And in doing so we shall clearly state that Brussels cannot relocate immigrants to Hungary using any kind of EU regulation without the consent of the Hungarian National Assembly. We must clearly state that we prohibit collective mandatory resettlement. We must make it clear that this is an issue of sovereignty, and that no decision by Brussels may call into question Hungary’s inalienable rights in relation to territorial integrity and population. What I have proposed to the parliamentary group – and what I duly received their political support for – is that we amend the Constitution, the Fundamental Law, in four places. Tomorrow the Cabinet will set about formulating the text of these four amendment proposals, at a codified level. I shall now tell you briefly about the most important of these amendments. Although at tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting the Minister of Justice will provide more detail, in essence this will be amendment of Article 14 of the Constitution, and Paragraph 2 of that article. In essence the amended legislation will state that a person with no right to free movement and residence can only relocate to Hungary on the basis of an individual application which has been accepted by the authorities in line with legislation adopted by the National Assembly. Period. Collective relocation shall be prohibited. Period. There are three other places where the Fundamental Law is to be amended, but this is perhaps the one most relevant to the question in the referendum. This is nothing more or less than a conversion of the question – the question put at the referendum – into declarative mode, and into a legislative form. I very much hope that the parliamentary parties will seriously debate the proposals we submit. And I very much hope that enough Members of Parliament in the National Assembly will enable us to realise this major amendment of the Constitution, which will require a two-thirds majority.

Thank you for your kind attention.