No dictum or indictment by the European Parliament will cause the Hungarian government to change its policy on migration, Gergely Gulyás, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office, said on Wednesday in a parliamentary debate held in light of the EP’s approval of the Sargentini report.
In the debate proposed by the government on “the protection of sovereignty in Hungary and the rejection of blackmail against Hungary”, Gulyás said the Lisbon Treaty holds that every EU member state has the right to take its own position on migration policy.
“Anyone who voted for this report — including Hungarian MEPs — drives this right away from Hungary,” he said.
The 28 EU member states do not have a common position on the issue of migration, he said.
The sole purpose of the report by Dutch Green MEP Judith Sargentini is to break the Hungarian government’s resistance to migration and denounce the Hungarian government for protecting Europe’s borders, he said.
Hungary is being condemned because it has made its position clear that help should be provided at the point where it is needed instead of “bringing trouble over to Europe”, Gulyás added.
He said the Hungarian government will be “happy to answer” the questions raised in the report to any EU institution.
“But if the EU and the EP don’t wish to dismantle the institutionalised Europe, then these sort of reports should be rejected with large majorities,” he said.
Gulyás said the distribution of votes cast indicated that the approval of the Sargentini report was about western Europe condemning central Europe. He attributed this to a lack of tolerance on the part of the “western European elite” towards the values represented by central European societies.
“Contrary to the intolerant approach of the author of the report, we are on the side of tolerance,” Gulyás said.
“We believe everyone has the right to decide whom they wish to live together with.”
He said the EU would either have to accept member states’ differing decisions on migration or the bloc will be weakened and ultimately torn apart.
Máté Kocsis, group leader of ruling Fidesz, called the report a “political attack” on Hungary and said parliament had a duty to respond to it. He said those who say migration would not be the primary issue in next year’s European parliamentary elections were wrong.
“The European Union is distorting its own institutional and regulatory system to fit its own political expectations” in order to “stigmatise and punish those in the EP election campaign who have opposing views on the migration issue”, he said.
Kocsis said it was “abundantly clear” that the Sargentini report had been drafted with the aim of putting pressure on and blackmailing Hungary.
He said Fidesz was committed to preserving Hungary’s Christian culture, protecting Europe’s borders and the safety of Europeans.
Lőrinc Nacsa of the co-ruling Christian Democrats called the Sargentini report “the petty revenge of pro-immigration politicians”. The Hungarian people have decided that they “want no part of immigration, the elimination of Christian culture … or you,” he said, turning to the opposition lawmakers.
Jobbik group leader Márton Gyöngyösi said the ruling parties were deliberately ignoring the essential critical remarks of the Sargentini report. He said painting the report as one about migration and border protection was a distraction on the government’s part. But he said Sargentini had “made a big mistake” by including these issues — which he said had nothing to do with democracy or the state of the rule of law — in the report, arguing that by having done so, Sargentini had “done a huge favour” for Hungary’s ruling parties.
Bertalan Tóth of the Socialist Party said the Sargentini report was an accurate reflection of Hungarian reality “not seen from the leather sofa of a luxury plane”.
Regarding migration, Tóth said that the Socialist Party does not think Hungary should become an immigrant country, and it had never thought so. The migration crisis, he added, is indeed a serious problem and the party accepts the fact of Hungary’s fence. Where the Socialists and the government diverge in their views is that the latter exploits the migration crisis for political gain while the left wants to solve it, which is only possible in the context of European cooperation. He added that the government had given residency “people linked to the Russian secret services and the Syrian dictator’s financiers”.
“When it comes to migration, the government can incite but it can’t govern,” he said.
Tóth said the Sargentini report was about the everyday lives of Hungarians and Hungary, “where the Fidesz elite gets to have more than the majority”. “The Socialists voted for the report precisely because they want to stop Fidesz from ripping off the majority,” he added.
Ferenc Gyurcsány, the leader of leftist opposition Democratic Coalition (DK), called the content of the draft parliamentary resolution persented by pro-government MPs “a lie” and its intentions “vile”.
The true subject of the Sargentini report is not Hungary but the actions of the Hungarian government, he said.
The government’s attempt to paint the report as one reflecting a debate between a pro-migration European majority and an anti-migration minority is false, he said. The real debate is about the parties’ vision of Europe, of which migration is but an element, not even the most important one.
Featured image: MTI