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EU-Turkey migrant deal in limbo

March 10th, 2016

Magyar Idők praises Viktor Orbán for saying no to the Turkey-EU draft deal, while Magyar Nemzet and Népszabadság accuse the government and public service media of staging a publicity stunt in Brussels to try to boost the Prime Minister’s popularity at home.

There is no draft deal between Turkey and the European Union, Magyar Idők proclaims in its editorial, since Hungary declared it would not take part ‘in this madness’. In the pro-government newspaper Levente Sitkei argues that the ‘one for one ‘ EU plan treats people as if they were coal sacks that can be hurled to and fro over borders. This is an inhuman solution, moreover, it will not work, he warns. The plan will not stop the influx of migrants without using physical force and erecting concrete walls, he adds. At the same time Magyar Idők praises Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who warned of the real danger, built a fence on the border and has now said no to the draft deal in Brussels.

A mini-war erupted in the Hungarian media on Monday night as some newspapers and news portals accused the Hungarian public media (MTVA) of breaking the news on television on the Hungarian ‘veto’ in Brussels in a misleading way, following government spokesman Zoltán Kovács’s tweet. Critics said MTVA’s news reports falsely portrayed the Prime Minister as the ‘lone hero’ willing to oppose the deal. In fact, there were several leaders at the summit who disagreed with the proposal, and there is actually nothing to veto yet. On Tuesday MTVA responded with a public statement saying such media outlets are ‘hostile’ to MTVA and accused them of lying. It cited news reports by international news agencies who also broke the news in a similar way.

Magyar Nemzet‘s editorial strongly disapproves of the way the draft deal was reached in Brussels and compares the process to the way business is done in a bazaar. Those who are deemed to have a bigger wallet, like a German tourist, will get a higher price, Gábor Stier warns in the article of the conservative paper. Turkey, he suggests, is using the same tactics in Brussels but is going too far.

The author also criticizes the Hungarian Prime Minister’s team for using the critical situation to boost Viktor Orban’s popularity, and accuses the Hungarian public service media of teaming up with the government in this effort. Nevertheless, the author thinks that, all things considered, Europe is slowly moving towards a solution. The big question, Gábor Stier asserts, is what the exact price of this solution will be.

At next week’s summit, we will see how much the European Union is willing to pay for the help offered by Turkey, which is effectively blackmailing the Union,  writes Gábor Horváth in Népszabadság. Money, however, is not the only issue here, the left-liberal paper suggests, as it was not only Viktor Orbán who threatened to veto the deal, but Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, too.

Népszabadság also criticizes ‘the logic of Budapest’ and accuses its ‘propaganda machine’ of lying about the role Hungary played during the talks. We are morally bound to help those who run for their lives, Horváth declares, and this should not be overwritten by campaign considerations. Moreover, the author warns, the surprising election results in Slovakia show hate mongering does not always pay off.

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