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Hungary Won't Push Law to Ban Migrant Resettlement

  • Reuters

FILE - Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban attends a news conference in Budapest, Hungary, Oct. 4, 2016.

FILE - Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban attends a news conference in Budapest, Hungary, Oct. 4, 2016.

The government of Hungary will not resubmit a law to ban the European Union's migrant resettlement quotas after parliament narrowly rejected the plan this week, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state radio Friday.

“We tried to put this into the constitution, but could not achieve this, as the opposition sided with Brussels,” Orban said in an interview on Kossuth radio.

Orban had said the amendment was needed to honor an October referendum, in which more than 3 million Hungarians, an overwhelming majority of those who voted, rejected EU quotas stipulating how many migrants member states must accept.

The far-right opposition Jobbik party sealed the bill’s rejection by boycotting the vote Tuesday. It said it would throw its support behind the ban if Orban scrapped a separate government bond scheme that allows foreigners to buy residency rights.

But giving way to Jobbik’s demand would have been politically difficult for Orban after the parliamentary defeat.

As a result, Orban added, his government would have to fight the European Union’s migrant quotas in Brussels, using Hungary’s existing constitution.

On a related matter, Orban said Hungarian immigrants who work in Britain will not see a worsening in their situation after Britain leaves the European Union.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May greets Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban at Downing Street in London, Nov. 9, 2016.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May greets Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban at Downing Street in London, Nov. 9, 2016.

Orban, who met British Prime Minister Theresa May in London earlier this week, said he and May had agreed on the issue, which is critical for around 95,000 Hungarians working in the United Kingdom. Unofficial estimates put this figure much higher.

“We had agreed that the situation of Hungarians already working in the UK today cannot worsen in the future, as long as the situation of Brits working in Hungary won’t deteriorate either,” Orban told Kossuth radio. “The debate will be about whether those, who would want to move to the UK in the future, will be able to go there or not.”

Since Hungary joined the EU in 2004, hundreds of thousands of Hungarians have moved to work in richer Western Europe, mostly in Germany, Britain and Scandinavian states.

Britons voted to leave the EU June 23. The British government’s plans to begin a two-year divorce process by the end of March were thrown into disarray last week, when a court ruled that parliament must be consulted on the decision.

Prime Minister May has said she is confident of overturning that ruling.

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