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First comments on EU migration deal

July 2nd, 2018

Pro-government commentators agree with PM Orbán that the EU migration deal is a huge political victory for Hungary and the Visegrad countries. A left-wing columnist is bitterly disappointed by the deal, while a liberal pundit downplays its importance.

At the EU migration summit on 28/29 June, EU heads of states agreed to abandon the idea of the mandatory redistribution of asylum-seekers and proposed the setting up of refugee centres outside the borders of the EU as well as the stronger defence of the EU’s external bordersPM Orbán commenting on the deal claimed victory for Hungary and the Visegrad countries. He said that the deal ensures that ’Hungary will remain Hungarian and not become an immigration state’.

Europe has finally returned to normality, Levente Sitkei writes in Magyar Idők. The pro-government commentator finds it sad that it took three years for the European Union to realize that illegal migration must be stopped. Sitkei claims that the outline agreement is very similar to what PM Orbán has long called for. Sitkei contends that the Hungarian government’s insistence, the opinion of the Italian government as well as German Chancellor Merkel’s admission of the weakness of the ‘culture of welcome’  ideology, were all of key importance in reaching the agreement and abandoning the plans for mandatory refugee redistribution. In conclusion, Sitkei is hopeful that the EU can after all be saved.

In Mozgástér blog, Tamás Lánczthinks that the EU migration deal is a great victory for the Hungarian government. The pro-government analyst suggests that several heads of states had to make a U-turn and abandon their earlier pro-migration stance.  Lánczi wonders if voters will punish these politicians including Chancellor Merkel and President Macron.

Magyar Hírlap’s Mariann Őry also interprets the deal as the victory of the Visegrad states and PM Orbán in particular. She, however, cautions against premature hopes that the migration crisis has been resolved. Although the outlined deal is in-line with PM Orbán’s suggestions, the agreement must also be implemented which requires political will, the pro-government pundit notes. As for the content of the deal, Őry thinks that the EU has finally reversed its earlier ‘idiotic and irresponsible liberal human rights fundamentalism’ and acknowledged that security should be put first.

Is the ultimate aim of democracy to stop migration? Judit Kósa in a bitter piece in Népszava comments on the EU deal. The left-wing columnist accuses Hungarians of being backward, unthinking xenophobic simpletons who do not realize even their own basic interests. Kósa finds it nauseating that Hungarians are not bothered by corruption, the decline of the education and health care systems and the curtailment of the independence of courts. Hungarians do not care about anything but stopping migration, as claimed by PM Orbán, Kósa fulminates. She finds it particularly disappointing that now Europe seems to follow PM Orbán’s anti-immigrant vision.

On Index, Tamás Kugyela contends that the migration crisis is far from being resolved. The liberal commentator thinks that the deal is only a temporary solution that saves time for the EU to design a proper migration policy framework. Kugyela believes that the idea of a mandatory migrant quota system has not been fully abandoned. The deal only says that migrants received in the future voluntary refugee camps will not be redistributed, but the text says nothing about what happens with migrants who have already arrived, Kugyela points out. The agreement also underscores that the principles of the Dublin rules will be respected, which also implies that migrant redistribution remains a legal possibility in the EU. Thus, Kugyela finds it absurd to interpret the deal in terms of victory and defeat. He concludes by noting that the most important implication of the deal is that governments shaken by the migration crisis including the German government have won some time to come up with a feasible migration policy.

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