Budapest (MTI) – Opposition parties on Monday demanded to know the reason for Defence Minister Csaba Hende’s resignation and called for a new direction from the government in its handling of the migrant crisis.
The radical nationalist Jobbik party said it demands “an immediate explanation” for Hende’s move. The party said they wanted to know the reason for the minister’s departure because Hungarian borders are under critical and “historic pressure” and because the bill to deploy the army to the border is still before parliament. “A government crisis in a situation like this is further cause for concern,” Jobbik said, adding that Hende’s resignation indicates that “not even the government can find common ground on border protection”.
The Socialist Party said that “by relieving Hende of his duties, [Prime Minister] Viktor Orban has admitted that the government’s refugee policy had failed”. The party said in a statement that Hende’s five years in office coincided with the army’s “deterioration”. “He [Hende] had a dozen scandals which in a normal country would have led to the defence minister’s immediate resignation,” the party said. The statement said that “the real reason for Hende’s resignation is being kept secret for now, but if he had to give an honest report on the army’s condition at today’s meeting of the national security committee, then we shouldn’t be surprised that Viktor Orban fired him.” The Socialists said they expect Istvan Simicsko, who will now manage the defence portfolio, to “distance himself” from Hende’s policies and “say no” to deploying the military along the border.
The leftist opposition Democratic Coalition said Hungarian citizens had a “right to know the real reasons” for the minister’s decision to step down. Lawmaker Agnes Vadai said it was “no accident” that “after five years of incompetence, recklessness and damage” Hende tendered his resignation “less than two weeks before the Orban government is set to deploy the army to the Hungarian-Serbian border”. She said Hende’s resignation was an “interesting development considering that just last week he was arguing in parliament for the deployment of the army within Hungary’s territory.”
The opposition Egyutt party said it was “not enough” to appoint a new person to the position of defence minister, adding that the government needed to “make a u-turn” in its handling of the migrant crisis. The party said in a statement that it had already become clear last weekend that there was “complete chaos” around the migrant situation and that the government was incapable of controlling it. “The government proves its dilettantism on a daily basis and Csaba Hende’s resignation is just a way of openly admitting it,” Egyutt said. “Until the Fidesz-KDNP coalition can resolve the crisis in a reassuring manner, it should only be ashamed of itself,” the party said.
Jozsef Gal of the green opposition LMP party said it believed the reasons behind Hende’s resignation may have been that he “did not agree with deploying the army and he may have known that under these circumstances the soldiers would not have been able to fulfill their tasks.” He said “the entire government is responsible for the inability to handle the migration wave.”
The Liberal Party said Hende’s resignation can only be seen as “the total failure of fence-building policies”. The party said it was not Hende’s resignation, but the government’s willingness to “admit that the border fence and anti-refugee policies” had failed.