Hungary is new hot spot on migrant route into EU - Part 2

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Re: Hungary is new hot spot on migrant route into EU - Part 2

Post  Lamplighter on Wed Sep 06, 2017 4:29 pm

Poland PM says ruling won't affect migrant stand.

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Poland's prime minister says her country will stick by its refusal to take in refugees even though the European Union's top court is reasserting its right to force member states to accept asylum-seekers.

Beata Szydlo spoke on Wednesday after the European Court of Justice rejected efforts by Hungary and Slovakia to stay out of an EU scheme meant to relocate refugees from Greece and Italy. Poland backed the Hungarian and Slovak complaint.

Szydlo says she isn't surprised by the court's decision, but that it "absolutely does not change the position of the Polish government with respect to migration policy." The developments prolong a standoff between the EU members struggling to absorb a large number of asylum-seekers and several Central European nations opposed to accepting migrants.

Hungarian and Polish leaders, in particular, often describe Muslim refugees as potential security threats.
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Re: Hungary is new hot spot on migrant route into EU - Part 2

Post  Lamplighter on Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:39 am

Viktor Orban: EU court ruling opens door to 'mixed culture'.

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — A ruling by the European Union's top court upholding the relocation of asylum-seekers opens the way to a "mixed culture and population" on the continent, Hungary's prime minister said Friday.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that while he "took note" of Wednesday's ruling by the European Court of Justice rejecting legal arguments by Hungary and Slovakia against the EU decision to relocate 160,000 asylum-seekers from Greece and Italy within the bloc, he would continue to oppose the plan.

"Now, instead of a legal fight, we have to fight a political fight," Orban said during an interview on state radio. "We have to get the different EU organizations to say that the decision they made, even if it was legal, was a bad decision ... which the member states can't and won't carry out."

Despite frequent urging by EU officials, only around 27,700 people have been relocated since September 2015. "We are not an immigrant country and Hungary does not want one to be an immigrant country," said Orban. The EU "is trying to transform Europe's traditional population and culture into a continent with a mixed population and a mixed culture."

Hungary built razor-wire fences on its southern borders in late 2015, when some 400,000 migrants from the Middle East and Asia passed through the country on their way to Western Europe. Orban says the fences, which have practically stopped the migrant flow, also protect Austria, Germany and the rest of Europe and has asked the EU to contribute about 440 million euros ($530 millon) to the barriers' cost and maintenance.

The EU said that it would not fund the fences but urged Hungary to apply for money available for "border management." In a written response to Orban, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also reminded the Hungarian leader that his country was the largest recipient of EU developments funds in terms of gross domestic product, with the 25 billion euros allocated in 2014-2020 totaling over 3 percent of Hungary's GDP.

EU mentions of the development funds have drawn strong responses from the Hungarian government, and Orban on Friday again made his position clear. "There is no possibility to set the question of immigration as a precondition for the allocation or distribution of EU funds," said Orban, who has kept immigration on top of his political agenda since 2015. "Such a correlation is illegal."

Hungary has benefited greatly from EU membership, supported by a large majority of Hungarians, but Orban has compared EU bureaucrats in Brussels to Soviet-era apparatchiks and sees "unelected EU officials" as trying to stealthily increase their power over the member states.

The Hungarian government has also conducted several anti-EU campaigns, charging Brussels with trying to "colonize" Hungary and of disregarding Hungarians' support for Orban, who returned to power in 2010. In parliamentary elections expected in April 2018, Orban hopes to regain the two-thirds majority which allowed him in 2012 to introduce a new constitution.

Orban has set countries like Russia and Turkey as models for his efforts to turn Hungary into an "illiberal state," a concept that includes an increasingly dominant role for the state and little regard for the democratic system of checks and balances.
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Re: Hungary is new hot spot on migrant route into EU - Part 2

Post  Lamplighter on Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:52 pm

Gov’t spox (spokesperson) claims New York Times editors “still don’t get it”.

Government spokesman Zoltán Kovács has hit back at New York Times, which criticised Hungary for its migration policy in a weekend editorial, saying they “really still don’t get it”. In a blog entry on the spokesman’s official website posted on Monday, Kovács said the government of Viktor Orbán had “built a fence on the southern border of Hungary because it’s an external border of the European Union’s Schengen Area.” “It was not simply “to tighten his border,” as they say, but to defend Europe and uphold treaty obligations, which include preventing illegal immigration into the EU.

Maintaining the security and integrity of the borders of the Schengen zone, the borderless area that allows freedom of movement, is essential to the EU’s security and the workings of the internal market. That’s a key point here.” Kovács continued: “Strong and secure borders are not making the migration crisis worse. On the contrary! It’s weak, undefended borders that are aggravating the crisis by creating a “pull factor,” encouraging migrants to set out on the dangerous journey. It’s the failure to secure the borders that has fuelled an industry of human trafficking that prey on migrants. And it’s the failure to secure the external borders that has led to hundreds of thousands of migrants illegally entering the territory of the EU.”
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Re: Hungary is new hot spot on migrant route into EU - Part 2

Post  Lamplighter on Sat Sep 16, 2017 7:07 am

Orbán wins the migration argument.

Suddenly most EU leaders echo the Hungarian prime minister.

No one in Brussels wants to say it out loud, but Viktor Orbán is winning the migration debate.

The Hungarian prime minister may be much maligned in European capitals for his anti-immigrant rhetoric, his opposition to the EU’s refugee relocation policy, and for building a border fence.

But look closely at how EU leaders now talk about the issue and the policies they’ve adopted since the 2015 crisis, and it’s clear Orbán’s preference for interdiction over integration has somehow prevailed.

There was an echo of Orbán’s long-standing call for tougher border controls in Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s claim in his State of the Union speech this week that “We are now protecting Europe’s external borders more effectively.”

At other points in the speech, it could easily have been the Hungarian premier speaking, as Juncker emphasized efforts to stop migrants before they leave Africa and return those who reach Europe’s shores. “When it comes to returns: People who have no right to stay in Europe must be returned to their countries of origin,” said Juncker.

While Hungary and Slovakia recently lost their fight against the EU’s relocation scheme at the European Court of Justice, the facts on the ground show that the legal victory for Brussels was hollow.

“Nobody will admit it in this town, but yes, Orbán’s narrative is prevailing,” a senior EU official said.    More at link.
http://www.politico.eu/article/viktor-orban-migration-eu-has-won-the-argument/
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Re: Hungary is new hot spot on migrant route into EU - Part 2

Post  bb1 on Sat Sep 16, 2017 8:38 am

Some long-overdue common sense - I wonder just how many people have fallen into the hands of human traffickers because of these 'no borders' clowns?

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Re: Hungary is new hot spot on migrant route into EU - Part 2

Post  Lamplighter on Fri Sep 22, 2017 12:58 pm

Poland's premier blasts EU before talks with Hungary leader.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, left, and his Polish counterpart Beata Szydlo

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's prime minister has accused European Union leaders of being politically motivated in criticizing her government's overhaul of the judiciary as being a threat to the rule of law.

Beata Szydlo made the remarks late Thursday, just hours before hosting Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban, many of whose policies are also seen by the EU as undemocratic. Szydlo told a pro-government, Catholic radio station that EU leaders have no authority to assess the changes in Poland's court system and that their motives are political. She blames Poland's opposition for having inspired EU censure.

The policies of both countries have faced particular rebuke from the European Commission, the EU's executive body. Szydlo said the criticism from the Commission "often exceeds its powers and is guided by political, not factual, motives."

Szydlo's talks with Orban on Friday will include their refusal to accept any migrants under an EU relocation plan, another area of disagreement with the EU. Orban is also to meet with parliament speakers and with the leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is Poland's most powerful politician despite not holding a government post.
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Re: Hungary is new hot spot on migrant route into EU - Part 2

Post  Lamplighter on Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:20 am

Hungary, Ukraine still at odds over Ukraine education law.

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary will continue to withhold its support for Ukraine's further integration with the European Union as long as a new Ukrainian education law remains unchanged, Hungary's foreign minister said Thursday.

The education law passed last month specifies that Ukrainian will be the main language used in schools, rolling back the option for lessons to be taught in other languages. Ukraine has some 150,000 ethnic Hungarians, mostly in the country's west.

"We consider the new Ukrainian education law a stab in the back of our country," Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said, speaking after a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Pavlo Klimkin. Ethnic Hungarians in Transcarpathia, as Hungary calls western Ukraine, fear that the 71 Hungarian schools there could be at risk of having to close, Szijjarto said.

He said relations between neighbors Hungary and Ukraine are "at their most difficult period" since Ukraine declared independence from the collapsing Soviet Union in 1991. Russia, Romania and Moldova have also expressed concerns about the new language law.

Klimkin said not knowing the native language made it hard for minorities to be successful in Ukraine. He said 75 percent of students in an area with a large Hungarian minority failed their high school exit exams.

"Everyone needs the opportunity to fulfill themselves in their country of citizenship," Klimkin said. "But this is not possible without knowing the language." However, he said "not a single school" would be closed or "a single teacher" dismissed because of the new language requirement.

Klimkin said Hungary's move to grant Hungarian citizenship to ethnic Hungarians living in Ukraine would not benefit those people. He also alleged that Russia was using the language issue to "manipulate" and "provoke" in Ukraine, including "directly and indirectly" in the Transcarpathia region.

In reply, Szijjarto said ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine "don't need any incitement from anyone to stand up for their own rights." "As long as the Hungarians of Transcarpathia ask us to fight on this issue and not back down, we will fight and not back down," Szijjarto said.
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Re: Hungary is new hot spot on migrant route into EU - Part 2

Post  Lamplighter on Wed Oct 18, 2017 6:55 pm

Police search Scientology center in Budapest.

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungarian police carried out a search at a Church of Scientology center in Budapest on Wednesday. Police said the search by members of the National Investigation Bureau was related to an investigation into the suspected misuse of personal information and other crimes.

Police listed the investigation's target as "unknown persons," a common designation when a specific suspect or suspects have not been identified. Church of Scientology International spokeswoman Karin Pouw called the search "religious suppression under the guise of data protection."

The raid was "an outrageous and wholesale violation of the human rights of all Scientologists in the country," Pouw said in a statement to The Associated Press. "These actions are guided by the discriminatory and hostile purposes of data protection officials who are using the law not as a shield to safeguard others, but as a sword to violate the rights of Scientology parishioners," she said.

Online publication ripost.hu said over 50 police officers surrounded the church's Budapest headquarters on one of the Hungarian capital's busiest roads early Wednesday. Hungarian police confirmed the search took place, but said additional information would not be released because the investigation.

The Church of Scientology is not among the 32 churches officially recognized by Hungary since a widely disputed law on churches and religious matters went into force in 2012.
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Re: Hungary is new hot spot on migrant route into EU - Part 2

Post  Lamplighter on Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:10 am

Hungary marks anniversary of 1956 Soviet reprisal
By Hungary Matters

Hungary’s flag was raised and then lowered to half-mast with military honours in front of Parliament on Saturday to mark the 61st anniversary of the crushing of the 1956 revolution and freedom-fight. The Hungarian government in 2013 declared November 4 to be a national day of mourning. The ceremony in Kossuth Square was attended by President János Áder, Chief of Staff Tibor Benkő, members of the foreign diplomatic and military attaché corps, representatives of Hungary’s military and political parties as well as state officials. The main commemoration ceremony was held at the 1956 memorial in Budapest’s Hargita Square. In the evening, a concert was held in St Stephen’s Basilica in memory of the martyrs of 1956.

Mourners were invited to light candles in memory of the victims of the revolution at the Heroes’ Wall next to the House of Terror museum. A protocol-free commemoration was also held throughout the day at plot 301 of the Rákoskeresztúr Cemetery, where victims of the Soviet retaliation after the revolution are buried in unmarked graves.
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Re: Hungary is new hot spot on migrant route into EU - Part 2

Post  Lamplighter on Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:30 pm

Hungary accuses US of meddling by funding 'objective' media.

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary's foreign minister on Wednesday accused the United States government of meddling in his country's internal affairs and upcoming election campaign by offering to fund "objective media in Hungary."

The U.S. has expressed concerns about "negative trends" for press freedom in Hungary, such as a dwindling number of independent news outlets and the increasing control people close to the government have in the media market.

The U.S. State Department last week called for grant applications from media outlets in Hungary based outside Budapest. One goal of the $700,000 program is to "improve the quality of local traditional and online media and increase the public's access to reliable and unbiased information."

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that the U.S. move was "shocking and unusual" among allies. "We don't do such things and we expect our allies to refrain from doing so, as well," Szijjarto said. Over the past month, Hungary's foreign ministry has twice summoned David Kostelancik, the charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy, over media issues. Kostelancik was first summoned after he spoke to the the Hungarian Association of Journalists outlining the U.S. view of local media.

The U.S.-funded projects would be launched between May and July 2018, while Hungary's elections will be in April. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has often stated that he wanted to achieve majority Hungarian ownership in four economic sectors — media, energy, banking and retail. Only the retail sector, dominated by chain stores like Austria's Spar, Auchan from France and Germany's Lidl and Aldi, remains mostly in foreign hands.

The government has helped allies finance the acquisition of media outlets by placing copious state advertising in those publications and hardly any in independent or opposition outlets. The closure of the leftist daily newspaper Nepszabadsag in Oct. 2016 was a watershed moment in Hungary's media landscape, which has changed significantly over the past year.

Practically all major newspapers published outside Budapest are now in the hands of pro-government publishers, some of whom also own television or radio stations.
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Re: Hungary is new hot spot on migrant route into EU - Part 2

Post  Lamplighter on Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:06 pm

17 suspects identified in Hungary extremist group probe.

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungarian police say 17 suspects have been identified in an investigation into the activities of the Hungarian National Front, a marginal ultra-nationalist group. Police Lt. Col. Andras Opauszki said Friday that hidden caches of weapons, ammunition, grenades and explosives were also found during the probe, which lasted over two years.

Most of the suspects are thought to have been preparing for violent acts. Three have been confined to their homes, while the others haven't had their movements restricted or been arrested. Opauszki said the group's website included appeals to fight against migrants. Police have handed over the results of their investigation to prosecutors, proposing that charges be brought against the suspects.

Also Friday, prosecutors charged the group's former leader, Istvan Gyorkos, in the October 2016 killing of a police officer.
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Re: Hungary is new hot spot on migrant route into EU - Part 2

Post  Lamplighter on Fri Dec 08, 2017 7:14 pm

Hungary's Jobbik party says fine may keep it out of election.

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — A huge fine from state auditors threatens the ability of Hungary's far-right Jobbik party to participate in an April parliamentary election, the party's leader said Friday. Jobbik chairman Gabor Vona asked supporters for donations to help pay the fine of 331.7 million forints ($1.24 million) imposed by the State Audit Office, which he says could bankrupt the party.

"Using the State Audit Office, the current government has launched a brutal attack against us," Vona told reporters. "It is unprecedented and unimaginable in European democracies for a government to try to use such means to ruin its biggest challenger four months before the elections."

The penalty also could cost Jobbik the same amount of money from the funds the party receives from the state. Based on its 2014 election results, Jobbik gets 476 million forints ($1.78 million) annually.

The party has until Dec. 21 to reply to a preliminary auditors' report that claims Jobbik paid illegal, below-market prices for a recent anti-government ad campaign. Jobbik denies the claim, but could be forced to pay the fine as soon as early January, Vona said.

Jobbik bought the billboard space from Lajos Simicska, a tycoon who was once a key ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Their relationship soured in 2015, and Simicska has since said he'd like Jobbik to win the 2018 election.

Analysts have long maintained that election spending is grossly underreported by most parties, including Orban's Fidesz, which for many years placed its own ads on Simicska's billboards. The audit office is run by a former Fidesz lawmaker. Critics saw his nomination as part of a weakening of democratic checks and balances under Orban. The state prosecutor's office is also headed by a former Fidesz politician.

The opposition Together party called on the audit office to examine the Fidesz ad campaigns during the 2014 election. The Politics Can Be Different party said the audit office made itself part of the election campaign as "the extended hand of the government."
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Re: Hungary is new hot spot on migrant route into EU - Part 2

Post  Lamplighter on Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:43 pm

Refugee quota opponents stump up funds to bolster EU borders.

BRUSSELS (AP) — The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia announced Thursday that they plan to spend around 35 million euros ($41 million) to beef up European Union borders as they come under pressure for refusing to accept refugee quotas.

Hungary in particular was hit hard in 2015 when tens of thousands of Syrian refugees and other migrants traveled north on foot out of Greece and through its territory looking for shelter in richer northern Europe. Prime Minister Viktor Orban even ordered the construction of a border fence to keep migrants out.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said their contribution will help save European funds and that "if we will see good projects in the future, first of all projects that are effective, we are ready to spend even more money because we really want to show solidarity."

Orban said the money will defend the EU's borders with the outside world and will also contribute to EU work in Libya, which many migrants leave for Europe. The countries — known as the Visegrad Four — have been slammed for failing to show solidarity with Greece and Italy, and some see the border funding move as a cynical ploy to avoid the refugee quotas. The issue is high on the agenda of a two-day EU summit in Brussels starting Thursday.

After more than 1 million refugees entered Europe in 2015 alone, the EU introduced a refugee sharing plan to help out overwhelmed Greece and Italy, where most migrants have been landing. The four voted against quotas, but were legally bound to accept refugees as the decision was made by a majority vote. Hungary and Poland have taken no refugees. The Czech Republic has accepted 12.

"Quotas do not work, they are ineffective," Fico said. "The decision on quotas really divided the European Union." Disagreement over the way to manage Europe's migrant challenge has created distrust between EU neighbors, and fueled anti-migrant parties across Europe.

Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni said the pledge of help from Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia "confirms the validity of the policies we are developing." European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, whose services drew up the quota plan and have defended it in court, welcomed the funding move.

"This is proof that the Visegrad Four countries are fully aligned when it comes to solidarity with Italy and with others, so for once I am a happy man," he said.
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Re: Hungary is new hot spot on migrant route into EU - Part 2

Post  Lamplighter on Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:56 pm

Hungary vows to stand by Poland in EU review.

WARSAW, Poland (AP) Hungary's deputy prime minister says the EU decision to launch proceedings against Poland is "unprecedented and astounding."

Zsolt Semjen, also head of Hungary's Christian Democrat party, said the EU's decision Wednesday "seriously damages Poland's sovereignty." Semjen said Hungary would oppose the EU Commission's move "at every forum" and defend Poland from the "unjust political procedure."

Hungarian state news wire MTI reports that Semjen also reiterated Prime Minister Viktor Orban's vow to veto any EU efforts to sanction Poland because of its disputed reforms of the judiciary. Semjen says it is "unacceptable that Brussels is putting pressure on sovereign member states and arbitrarily punishing democratically elected governments."

Over the past several years, Orban's government has also been a target of EU criticism because of a perceived weakening of democratic checks and balances.

A spokeswoman for Poland's ruling party has called the European Union's decision to launch a censure procedure against Poland "political," and says it has nothing to do with the facts about the steps that Poland is taking.

Beata Mazurek of the ruling Law and Justice party insisted that the changes Poland is making to its justice system, and which EU leaders find undemocratic, are based on the situation in other EU member states.

She insisted that the EU Commission is deaf to such arguments and wants to sanction Poland for political reasons, including for its refusal to accept migrants.

Mazurek argued the procedure will hit Poles but will not affect the ruling party's policies of reorganizing the judiciary and other walks of life.

She also argued that no punitive sanctions can be triggered against Poland because they would need unanimity, which will not be achieved because of Hungary's opposition to them.

Poland's justice minister says the European Union member will continue its overhaul of the justice system despite an unprecedented censure from EU leaders.

Zbigniew Ziobro, who co-authored the controversial reorganization of the justice system and whose powers are strengthened by it, said he received news that the EU had launched the procedure with "calm."

He said Poland needs to continue with it, and that Poland "will only be a significant EU member when it has a well-functioning justice system."

He insisted its provisions were drawn from justice systems of western EU members.

The European Union's executive has triggered proceedings against Poland that could lead to sanctions over its recent decisions involving the judiciary.

The triggering of Article 7 was widely expected and EU Commissioner Frans Timmermans said that "we are doing this for Poland, for Polish citizens" so they can rely on a fully independent judiciary in their nation, which is a key underpinning of EU principles.

Timmermans said that despite the measure indicating that "the rule of law is under threat" he remained open to dialogue with Warsaw to remedy this abuse "of naked political power."

Polish justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro, however, insisted that despite the EU measure, Poland will continue to 'reform' its justice system.

Poland's state news agency PAP says the European Commission, the guardian of European Union law, has taken an unprecedented step toward possibly imposing sanctions on Poland over judicial laws seen as violating Europe's basic democratic values.

Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro seemed to confirm the step on Wednesday, saying he received the decision with "calm" and insisting that Poland is a law-abiding country.

According to PAP, which did not identify its source, the Commission triggered what is formally known as Article 7, a procedure that could eventually lead to Poland losing its voting rights in the bloc.

Sometimes called the "nuclear option," Article 7 has never been triggered against a member state before. The step is seen as a sign of serious concern about the new judicial laws.
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Re: Hungary is new hot spot on migrant route into EU - Part 2

Post  Lamplighter on Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:46 pm

Hungary's Orban due at German conservatives' meeting.

BERLIN (AP) — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has taken a tough line against migrants entering the European Union, is expected to attend a meeting of a German conservative party that is preparing to starts talks on a possible new coalition government.

Orban is due Friday at a meeting in Bavaria of the Christian Social Union's lawmakers. The CSU is the Bavaria-only sister party to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, and feuded with Merkel over her 2015 decision to allow in large numbers of migrants. They patched up their differences this year.

Orban has previously also been a CSU guest. Martin Schulz, the leader of the center-left Social Democrats, which whom the conservatives hope to form a new government, urged CSU counterpart Horst Seehofer to confront Orban on European migrant policy and on press freedom.
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Re: Hungary is new hot spot on migrant route into EU - Part 2

Post  Lamplighter on Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:45 pm

Hungary's Orban steps up crackdown on critics before vote.

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Nearly 30 years after the end of communism, the tightening stranglehold Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his oligarch allies have on key sectors of Hungary's media has inspired a group of activists to relaunch a modern version of samizdat, the clandestine publications created by dissidents in the Soviet era.

On a recent day, activists handed out copies of the publication to passengers on outbound trains at Budapest's Keleti station, hoping copies would reach people in rural areas whose main source of news comes from heavily controlled state news outlets.

Yet this act of resistance is unlikely to do much to shake the rule of the 54-year-old Orban, who has centralized power for his conservative Fidesz party over eight years of rule and seems set to win a third consecutive term in April elections.

On Sunday, Orban, who also had an earlier stint as prime minister from 1998-2002, will deliver his annual "state of the nation" speech, something he has done every year for the past 20 years whether in office or not. This year it comes as he intensifies efforts to silence civic groups critical of his government ahead of the April 8 vote.

Despite strong economic growth and record-low unemployment, Orban is expected to continue vilifying migration, the European Union and his personal bete noire, Hungarian-American financier George Soros, whose ideal of an "open society" clashes with Orban's efforts to turn Hungary into an "illiberal state" not open to migrants.

Orban's penchant for stirring up conflict may be rooted in his stated belief that Hungarians reach out to him when they feel in trouble but choose the opposition when things go well. "One of the main characteristics of Viktor Orban and his current government is that they have to constantly be at war with an enemy," said Peter Kreko, political analyst and executive director at Political Capital, a Budapest research firm.

Since becoming premier for the second time in 2010, Orban has introduced a new constitution, placed associates at the head of the prosecutor's office, the state audit office and other state institutions and swollen the role of the state in the economy and public life to the detriment of civic groups and private enterprise. Meanwhile, several oligarchs close to him and enriched by state contracts and EU funds, have bought up hundreds of media outlets that now emit a steady stream of government propaganda.

"Since 2010, the government has gradually minimized space for independent media," said Janos Laszlo, the editor of the samizdat publication, which is meant to be printed out from the Internet, folded into a small four-page newsletter and is called "You Print, Too!"

"They have very consciously isolated their voter base and assailed them with the anti-migrant campaign built on fear to which the less informed, poorer rural residents were more receptive," Laszlo said as he and fellow activists distributed the newsletter.

Some passengers asked for several copies of the publication, which included articles on topics rarely addressed in the state or pro-government media, such as allegations of corruption by government officials or demands by students for education reform.

"I'd like to put a few in mailboxes in my own village, so people can read this, too," said Julianna Horvath, heading to the village of Apc, 70 kilometers (45 miles) northeast of Budapest. "Today, people in rural areas know only about what the government wants them to know about."

Orban, 54, a former student leader and liberal who became known when he publicly called for the exit of Soviet troops in 1989, made a conservative turn in the mid-1990s and is now a leading opponent of migration into Europe, especially by Muslims, whom he sees as threats to Europe's cultural heritage.

"We feel that we are losing ground and that our lifestyle based on Christian culture is in peril," Orban said this month. "We have not left our countries and yet the feeling that we are at home has begun to disappear."

In 2015, at the height of the migrant crisis, Hungary built fences on its southern borders with Serbia and Croatia to divert the flow of people seeking to reach Western Europe. Since then, the country's refugee camps have been closed, the support system for refugees greatly weakened and now sometimes only one or two asylum-seekers a day are processed in border "transit zones" made of shipping containers.

The latest government efforts to crack down on foreign-funded organizations consist of a new legislation dubbed "Stop Soros," reflecting Orban's claim that Soros' influence is behind practically every pro-migrant policy in the world.

Critics see the attacks on Soros, a liberal philanthropist and Holocaust survivor, as part of a broader attack on democracy with anti-Semitic undertones. Under the legislation, which was submitted to Parliament on Tuesday and is expected to face a vote only after the election, civic groups which organize, support or finance migration will only be able to operate with permission from the interior minister and would have to pay a 25 percent levy on funding received from abroad.

People working with migrants could also be banned from going closer than 8 kilometers (5 miles) from most Hungarian borders, which could possibly prevent lawyers and others from being able to meet with asylum-seekers stopped at the border.

The draft legislation has drawn sharp criticism from the Council of Europe, Amnesty International and the German government, among others. The Hungarian Helsinki Committee, which provides legal aid to asylum seekers, has been expressly named by the government as a target of the "Stop Soros" laws. Most of its funding comes from Soros' Open Society Foundations, the United Nations, and the EU.

"The aim is clearly to drive independent voices into a corner, stigmatize them and possibly even to eliminate them," said Marta Pardavi, the Helsinki committee's co-chair. "To what degree this can succeed in a democracy which is a member of the European Union is a big question."

Orban is considered to have one of the best relationships with Russian President Vladimir Putin's among EU politicians, which may account for some of his policies. "In the actions of the government, we increasingly see that, following the Russian model ... they are taking control of the media and striving to decrease the influence of civil organizations," Kreko, the analyst, said.
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Re: Hungary is new hot spot on migrant route into EU - Part 2

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