Budapest, March 3 (MTI) – The foreign ministry on Thursday said it was “outrageous” and “unacceptable” that certain European leaders have criticised the Hungarian government for “exercising one of the most basic tools of democracy” by initiating a referendum on the EU’s mandatory migrant quota scheme.
The ministry responded to remarks Secretary-General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland made to the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday in which he implied that by holding the referendum, Hungary was “retreating from” European human rights principles.
“[S]tates cannot simply opt in and out of their international obligations as they see fit,” Jagland told the council, referring to the referendum initiative.
Hungary’s foreign ministry rejected Jagland’s “accusations” in a statement and stressed that Hungary has always complied with all international conventions.
The ministry said that in line with international accords Hungary provided care for 400,000 migrants last year, but added that the government is sticking to the stance that no international agreement guarantees illegal migrants the right to decide which European country they want to live in.
Hungary will protect both its own borders and those of the Schengen Area, the ministry insisted, adding that Hungary does not wish to take in any illegal economic migrants on the basis of mandatory migrant quotas. The ministry noted that Hungary has challenged the redistribution scheme in court.
Hungarians have the right to express their opinion on a matter that affects their country’s future to the extent that migrant quotas would, the ministry said.