Hungary Defies EU Court Ruling On Migration (Worthy News In-Depth)
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News reporting from Budapest, Hungary
(Worthy News) – Hungary’s hardline prime minister warns that his country will defy a ruling by the European Union’s top court and stick by its controversial immigration legislation.
Viktor Orbán spoke after the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) said Hungary “failed to fulfill” its EU obligations by preventing and even pushing back asylum seekers trying to enter Hungary.
The court also found that Hungary unlawfully criminalized activities of those helping asylum-seekers with advice or support, such as lawyers or activists, with up to one-year imprisonment.
Hungary has refused migrants fleeing war, persecution, and poverty to “arrive through a safe country,” mainly from neighboring Serbia.
Though Hungary claims to support persecuted Christians, it took 553 days before an Iranian Christian convert and his young son could leave a container camp after Worthy News raised their ordeal at a news conference with Orbán in 2020.
“The Hungarian government called the transit zone a camp, but it was a prison, really. Walls, fences, barbed wire, and police officers everywhere,” said Abouzar Soltani, 39, about his time locked up on the Hungary-Serbia border. “No grass, no trees; just stone, concrete, and metal,” added Soltani, who participated in a recent theater production about his ordeal.
LIVING IN FLAT
The artist and former hospital public relations manager from the Iranian city of Isfahan and his son Armin now live in a flat in the Hungarian town of Győr.
Backed by the Baptist church, they live close to the refugee center where they went after leaving the prison camp on the Hungary-Serbia border. Armin, now 12, is going to school.
While the container camp where they lived has since been removed, the harsh treatment of asylum seekers under a 2018 bill, the CJEU concluded.
Yet, Prime Minister Orbán said his government would continue its policies under the 2018 so-called “Stop Soros” bill, named after liberal U.S. philanthropist George Soros.
“We will not do anything to change the system of border protection,” Orbán stressed at a rare end-of-year press conference in Budapest. “We will maintain the existing regime, even if the European court ordered us to change it.”
This month, Hungary’s Constitutional Court sidestepped a question posed by Orbán’s justice minister on whether EU law had primacy over Hungarian immigration legislation. The Court made clear that the interpretation of Hungary’s constitution could not be aimed at overruling a European court decision.
EU WARNS HUNGARY
Amid legal wrangling, the European Commission, the EU’s executive, has warned that the European court’s ruling could result in heavy fines being levied on Hungary by the EU.
In September, the CJEU began issuing daily fines of 1 million euros ($1.2 million) to Poland, a key ally of Hungary, for defying a court ruling on suspending changes to its judicial system.
The case underscored years of tense relations between the rightwing populist government of Hungary’s prime minister and Brussels. The European Commissio has already withheld around $8 billion in COVID-19 recovery funds for Hungary because of what it views as inadequate anti-corruption measures in the country’s spending plan.
Orban called the withholding of recovery funds “political blackmail,” and a punishment for his migration policies.
Outside issues such as its treatment of migrants and refugees, Hungary and the EU have clashed for years on topics ranging from judicial independence to media freedoms.
Orbán, who has ruled continuously since 2010, has accused Brussels of working against his nation’s national interest and meddling in its internal politics.
Besides consulting Hungarians on migration, Orbán announced plans to hold a referendum on the recently adopted child protection law that the EU views as anti-LGBTQ+ rights.
Orbán, 57, claims the law protects against unwanted LGBTQ+ “propaganda” and education to minors. Ahead of the referendum, he nominated Tuesday his ally and current Minister for Families Katalin Novák as Hungary’s next president pending parliamentary approval.
Hungary will hold a general elections in April or May 2022, and Orbán says they will determine Hungary’s sovereignty and pro-family policies.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic undermined Orbán’s efforts to deliver, with officials reporting more than 38,000 related deaths on a population of nearly 10 million people.
Hungary so far refused to implement new hard lockdowns focusing instead on jabs, including from China and Russia, where Orbán will meet President Vladimir Putin early next year.
Leaked documents showed that authorities knew about safety concerns among experts about the safety or effectiveness of Eastern vaccines. Orbán said Tuesday that Hungary had officially rejoined the EU’s third vaccine procurement program to protect its population against the Omicron variant by ordering 9.5 million doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer jabs.
Since May, Hungary was the only EU member state to leave the scheme, saying they trusted their country’s own vaccine supply.
If you are interested in articles produced by Worthy News, please check out our FREE sydication service available to churches or online Christian ministries. To find out more, visit Worthy Plugins.