Government office chief: EU member states under pressure to reach deal on migrant redistribution
Budapest, December 14 (MTI) – European Union member states are under considerable pressure to reach an agreement on the mandatory redistribution of illegal migrants within the bloc, the government office chief said on Wednesday.
Although the position of central European countries on the matter is clear, Germany wants to achieve a “breakthrough” on the resettlement scheme at the European Council’s upcoming meeting, János Lázár said at his weekly press conference.
Lázár said there were two competing positions on the matter: the view that illegal migrants should only be taken in on a voluntary basis and the one supporting the mandatory redistribution of migrants.
Lázár repeated the Hungarian government’s stance that migration should not be “organised” but rather stopped altogether and that migration procedures should be handled outside the EU’s borders.
The government office chief said Prime Minister Viktor Orbán would be fighting a “major battle over the next 48 hours”, adding that the prime minister was bound by the decisions of parliament and the Constitutional Court. He therefore has no authority to approve any EU proposal that would “force” the mandatory redistribution of migrants onto Hungary, Lázár said.
Lazar said the EU-Turkey migration deal would be the main topic on the European Council’s agenda. Lazar qualified the agreement as “partially successful”, as it had helped reduce the number of migrants entering Greece from Turkey or drowning in the Mediterranean.
Lázár said the European Council was ready to authorise the EU to enter into partnership agreements with third countries on assisting the bloc in managing the migrant crisis. Such agreements would be of help to the western Balkan states and vital for Italy, Lázár said. He said such an agreement could be signed with certain North African countries on taking back migrants from Europe.
He said the government had decided to settle debts overdue for more than 30 days owed by hospitals, to the value of 80 billion forints (EUR 255.1m). Part of this amount will be used to set up a development fund for hospitals.
The government has also decided to raise the wages of social workers employed in health care to the level of those of health-care workers, Lázár said. Public workers are also set to be given pay hikes, but this is still subject to talks between the interior and economy ministries, he added.
Lázár revealed that the prime minister would be travelling to Szeged in January for talks with László Botka, the city’s (Socialist) mayor, on the Modern Cities programme. Plans are to build a 200 hectare industrial park and the government has also approved the construction of a new indoor swimming pool and a new bridge over the river Tisza in the city, he said.
He said the government projects a budget shortfall above 2 percent of GDP for this year. Lázár added that the government was also likely to raise its economic growth forecast for next year.
Asked about press reports suggesting that a contingent of US soldiers could be stationed in Hungary as part of a relocation programme, Lázár said the government had no knowledge of such developments, and that such a move would require the consent of parliament. He said the government was in support of bolstering the Hungarian army, adding that “we do not want foreign troops to be stationed on Hungary’s territory.” But whenever Hungary is asked by NATO to allow foreign troops to be stationed on its territory, the government always considers its obligations to the alliance, and complies with the request, Lázár said.