Wed, Apr 11, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Hungary’s Orban to seek EU of strong nations


Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks during a press conference in Budapest yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban yesterday said that his landslide re-election had given him a powerful mandate to restrict migrant rights and seek an EU of independent nations rather than a “United States of Europe.”

The right-wing nationalist leader, whose resounding victory on Sunday sent shockwaves through opposition parties, also said he planned to revamp his government.

“I will set up a new government, in a large part with new people and a new structure,” he said, without going into detail.

Orban won a third straight term in power in Sunday elections after his anti-immigration campaign message solidified a strong majority for his party in parliament, granting him two-thirds of the seats based on preliminary results.

“We have received a strong mandate,” the 54-year-old prime minister told his first news conference since his election triumph, which has triggered the resignation of Gabor Vona, leader of the main opposition Jobbik party in parliament.

“The Hungarian people have defined the most important issues: These are the question of immigration and national sovereignty,” Orban said.

“It is entirely clear ... from the election result that Hungarians have decided that only they can decide with whom they want to live in Hungary, and the government will stick to this position,” he said.

His Fidesz party on Monday signaled that it could push on with legislation to crack down on organizations promoting migrant rights as soon as parliament reconvenes.

The government’s “Stop Soros” bill submitted to parliament before the election would impose a 25 percent tax on foreign donations to non-governmental organizations that the government says back migration in Hungary.

“Stop Soros” refers to Hungarian-born US billionaire George Soros, whose funding of liberal democratic, open-border causes in Europe has made him a major adversary of Orban.

“The election in my view also ... decided that the Hungarian government must stand up for a Europe of nations and not for a ‘United States of Europe,’” said Orban, an opponent of deeper integration within the EU.

Orban added that he would cultivate deeper relations with nationalist-ruled Poland and the conservative German region of Bavaria in his new term in office, because of their direct support for his re-election bid.

In related news, one of Hungary’s two national opposition dailies is to shut down tomorrow due to financial problems, its publisher said, in a sign of rapidly deteriorating prospects for media freedom after Orban’s landslide victory.

The closure of Magyar Nemzet will be a milestone in the gradual disappearance of independent media in Hungary that western EU leaders and international rights groups say underlines the nation’s slide into authoritarianism.

The 80-year-old daily is owned by tycoon Lajos Simicska, once an ally of Orban who fell out with him and became one of his staunchest opponents in the election campaign.

Simicska’s media holdings, once highly profitable, incurred heavy losses after he fell out with Orban and his publications were deprived of government advertising.

“Due to the financing problems of Magyar Nemzet, the owners have decided to cease media content production activity from April 11, 2018. Therefore Magyar Nemzet and its online version will close,” the publisher said in on its Web site.

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