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Dispute over migration rumbles on

May 26th, 2015

PM Orbán’s speech at the European Parliament continues to be a major subject of debate. Conservative commentators tend to agree that Hungary should not become more open to migrants, while left-wing and liberal commentators accuse the government of xenophobia.

In Magyar Hírlap, István Lovas claims that Western countries including the US have in the past introduced much stricter migration control measures than those currently proposed by the Prime Minister. The pro-government commentator finds absurd left-wing attempts to draw parallels between  current migrants and Hungarian refugees in 1956. Hungarian refugees were welcomed as an exception in the West in order to strengthen anti-Russian sentiments, Lovas suggests.

Commenting on PM Orbán’s speech at the European Parliament (see BudaPost May 21), János Zila in the same daily believes that PM Orbán was successful in raising issues that concern Hungarians. Despite the fact that PM Orbán was the target of some criticism even from fellow conservatives in the European People’s Party, he was able to dominate the discussion, which was his primary aim, Zila maintains.

In Napi Gazdaság, Ottó Gajdics likens the European Parliament to a monkey cage in the zoo. The pro-government pundit finds it absurd that “old anarchists” and other lefties should criticize PM Orbán for his views on immigration, while German Chancellor Merkel and French President Hollande can discuss how migration could be stopped without being accused of being xenophobic. As for Hungarian left-wing MEPs joining the critics of PM Orbán, Gajdics remarks that such politicians are likely to be seen as traitors by Hungarian conservative voters.

Hungary would be better off with the EU’s proposed migration quota, Károly Lencsés argues in Népszabadság. If the quota system was introduced, Hungary would have to take care of only 1.8 per cent of refugees in the European Union, which is less than the 43,000 refugees who applied for asylum in 2014 (in practice, most leave the country while their applications are being processed). Lencsés speculates that the Hungarian refugee system would collapse if all asylum seekers who submitted their applications in Hungary but then left to other EU states would be sent back to Hungary in accordance with the Dublin Agreement.

Népszabadság in a separate front page editorial lambasts Minister of Justice László Trócsányi, who said that Hungary cannot afford to spend money on economic migrants, since it considers the integration of 800,000 poor Roma as a priority and allocates all available resources accordingly. The leading left-wing daily finds it abhorrent that Minister Trócsányi identified Roma with poor people in need of help and better integration. Népszabadság thinks that it is also complacent to claim that Roma integration is a top priority for the government. The daily contends that the government does nothing against school segregation and hinders the integration of poor Roma through the benefits-for-work scheme.

Without specifically mentioning Minister Trócsányi’s statement or the Roma, Magyar Demokrata editor-in-chief András Bencsik claims that spending on migrants would leave the country with less resources to spend on its own poor. Bencsik calls for common sense in providing help of refugees and proposes that the Orbán government should concentrate its efforts on further improving the Hungarian economy.

Although both PM Orbán and PM Cameron call for more national sovereignty on migration, the UK and Hungary have different interests in regulating it, Gábor Stier writes in Magyar Nemzet. On Friday at the Riga EU summit, PM Orbán and PM Cameron discussed the subject. Mr Orbán said that he found PM Cameron’s suggestion to stop welfare migration reasonable. Stier notes that Hungarians working in the UK will be worse off if PM Cameron limits migrant’s access to welfare and other benefits. Thus Hungary should not back Cameron in his efforts to weaken free movement in the EU, since this will be disadvantageous for Hungarians who took up jobs in the UK.

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