Forcing central Europe ‘not wise’, Hungarian Justice Minister tells Die Welt
The German conservative newspaper Die Welt published an interview with Justice Minister László Trócsányi on its news portal on Wednesday under the title It is not particularly wise to force something upon Central-Europe in connection with the quota lawsuit.
The Minister said that Hungary acknowledges the ruling of the European Court, despite the fact that it does not agree with its reasoning.
The judges, however, underlined in their ruling related to the mandatory mechanism aimed at the relocation of 120 thousand asylum-seekers that the two-year period designated for the implementation of the decision adopted in the council of the Home Ministers in 2015 will expire on 26 September, Mr Trócsányi pointed out.
He added that, in his view, the decision adopted as a temporary measure will cease to have effect on 26 September, and consequently, Hungary could fully waive the taking in of refugees, but according to the construction of the European Commission, the decision will remain valid and binding also beyond the expiry of this deadline.
There is no such provision of any kind in the decision of the Home Ministers. If Hungary were to accept the position of the Brussels Commission nonetheless, a decision adopted for a fixed term would become a decision valid for an indefinite period, which would cause legal uncertainty, the Minister said.
He highlighted that
most EU Member States have not implemented the decision, they have only taken in 27 thousand asylum-seekers, and therefore „this is hardly a success story for the Commission”.
In response to the claim that the Commission instituted infringement proceedings for this very reason, he pointed out that such proceedings had only been instituted against Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. He remarked: the question is why proceedings have only been instituted against these three countries, and it is also a question whether there is a difference between a country which only fulfils 0.7 per cent of its quota and a country which does not take in a single asylum-seeker.
He pointed out: there is no „reprisal” against a Member State if it takes in 15 asylum-seekers, thereby fulfilling a mere 0.7 per cent of its quota. The question is why it is a problem if a Member State chooses not to proceed in this manner, but „raises a theoretical question in a political and legal context”. Perhaps, the problem is that „this may not be politically correct”?
Hungary, too, could have taken in 20 to 30 asylum-seekers who would have then moved on to Germany within a few days, but instead the Hungarian Government „laid down its position on the level of a principle because it believed that this was more sincere”.
As a result, however, Hungary „is handed down tougher treatment than the rest” which „leaves some questions open regarding the equality of the Member States”, Mr Trócsányi said.
He added: he does not demand that the Commission should institute infringement proceedings against all the Member States, though in this case Brussels’ measure „would not be politically tainted at least”. They should instead admit that the decision adopted with respect to the refugee quotas has not come up to expectations. The decision prepared by the Commission without impact studies which was adopted in just 13 days „is unworkable in practice”.
The „conclusion” is that the role of the European Council comprised of the EU heads of state and government must not be underestimated, and „it is not worth” taking action against their compromises,
the Minister said, reiterating that the European Council agreed on the distribution of asylum-seekers on a voluntary basis in June 2015. As he said, it is „alarming” that, notwithstanding this, the Home Ministers agreed on mandatory distribution in September 2015.
In answer to the suggestion that a decision must be made somehow, he pointed out that he believes in talks because „this is the meaning and purpose of the European Union”. We must hold talks and reach compromises, and in this process the Member States must respect one another, while upon the compilation of its proposals the Commission must take the historical and cultural specificities of the Member States into consideration.
He highlighted that the Central-European mentality and soul are different from the Western-European ones, „we had no colonies, we were not involved in wars, our soldiers only take part in peacekeeping missions, and we would not like to participate in the exportation of democracy that is lacking in reality”. Additionally, this region suffered from communist dictatorship for 40 years, and also for this reason Central-Europe is „very sensitive” to decisions concerning its identity.
Naturally, „it is possible to vote against the Central-Europeans and to force things upon them”, but this is „not particularly wise,
and instead of strengthening the EU, it deepens the cracks in Europe”, Mr Trócsányi said.
He stressed: it is better to have talks and to seek a consensus, „we are always ready to do so”.
He also said that it is to be hoped that the next step will not be the introduction of permanent refugee quotas. He pointed out that the powers regarding refugee policy are divided between the EU and the Member States, and the question is whether it is wise to empty these divided powers to the detriment of the Member States. Immigration policy clearly falls within the competence of the Member States, but now „migration policy and refugee policy are mixed up”, and it is difficult to separate them.
In answer to the question as to whether Hungary will leave the EU if the permanent refugee quotas are introduced, Mr Trócsányi stated that EU membership and its retention is not a question for Hungary, „we are a part of the EU, we belong to the EU”, and the disputes „can be regarded as family disputes”.
In response to the suggestion that the Polish and Hungarian Ministers describe the ruling of the European Court as a politically motivated decision, Mr Trócsányi said that he finds this wording less than adequate. The European Court „is an independent judiciary agency”, an institution which „must be taken seriously”, but this does not mean that we must always agree with the reasoning of the judges.
You can read the full article in German at Welt.de