Weber has called on the Hungarian government to halt its campaign against Brussels and to apologise to EPP member parties. He also insists the Central European University (CEU) should remain in Budapest.

Balázs Hidvéghi, Fidesz's communications director, said that whereas Fidesz would "listen to everyone, including Manfred Weber ... protecting European Christian values and stopping migration is more important than party discipline ... "

In respect of the CEU, the Fidesz spokesman said: "The Soros network is moving every stone in its own interests." He insisted that the CEU continued to operate in Budapest according to Hungarian law. Education, he added, is a national competence and criticism was therefore unfounded. In Hungary, all universities must abide by the same laws, including "the Soros university".


Brussels wants to legalise, boost immigration: government

The Hungarian government also received criticism for its poster campaign and the communications regarding European Union policy on migration from the European Commission, to which it sent a detailed response at the end of February. According to the document, Brussels intends to legalise and boost immigration. The eight-page rebuttal presents the EU plans and decisions that the government says would increase migration into Europe.

In connection with the document, Csaba Dömötör, the state secretary of the cabinet office, said that various public statements and voting records showed the intentions of the EU. "The plans reflect a clear intention: to legalise immigration rather than stop it," he said. "This intention is well served by the introduction of quotas, migrant bank cards and migrant visas."

Meanwhile, the Government Information Center said the government advocated honest dialogue, even if this involved disputes. The statement published on the government's website kormany.hu refers to a Brussels resolution stating that "the possibilities for legal migration must be ensured". This, the statement said, "is extremely telling ... This is not a secret plot but an open intensification of cooperation on immigration."

The statement said that whereas the commission insisted that financier George Soros had nothing to do with the EU's migration policies, "the billionaire's published statements coincide with plans being made in Brussels". The government said the scheme to relocate migrations based on compulsory quotas had not been withdrawn and the rights of EU member states to protect their borders would be overruled. The commission, it added, supported the introduction of a migrant visa while, "bafflingly", denying such a plan.

At the same time, no denial was given concerning money given to organisations that aid migration, it said. Already, "tens of thousands of migrants" receive topped-up bank cards, the government maintained. The commission has acknowledged funding the scheme for migrant bank cards, it said, adding that 64,000 people had received money through card.

In its rebuttal, the government also noted that the commission backed pilot projects that would legalise migration. Accordingly, EU member states would propose pilot schemes with African countries to "replace irregular migration flows with secure, orderly and well-managed legal migration opportunities ... The European Commission therefore does not seek to stop migration but to legalise it."

Brussels, it insisted, planned to reduce the EU funds of member states that take an anti-migration stance in a number of ways. The commission's insistence that "there is no correlation between EU funding and support or rejection of migration" is untrue, the document adds. "We are committed Europeans and we won't surrender," the government said in the rebuttal. "We want a Europe that respects the rights of nation states, builds on its Christian values, protects its communities, and can maintain its long-term security. This is why we speak out whenever we see all this endangered."


EPP politicians hypocritical: spokesman

At a press conference the government spokesman branded European People's Party politicians critical of the Hungarian government's media campaign as "hypocritical", arguing that the campaign was far more low-key than the criticism the government has received over it.

Asked why the government had decided to put European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the centre of the campaign, István Hollik said Juncker was one of the most prominent "pro-migration" politicians in Brussels. "The facts show that Juncker is one of the strongest politicians in Brussels who supports migration," Hollik said. He noted Juncker's past calls for the creation of legal migration routes to the European Union and his comments criticising the concept of national borders.

Hollik said certain EPP politicians were applying double standards by calling Hungary out for "criticising the politician whose name is linked to the five most critical years of the European Commission". Hungary fulfils its Schengen commitments, protecting not only its own but also the EU's external borders, he said. Hungary considered dangerous any measure that gave migrants the idea that they could depend on Europe financially.

The Hungarian government's position has remained unchanged for three years: help should be provided at the point where it is needed rather than "bringing trouble over to Europe", Hollik said.

# A modified billboard. The new caption reads “you have the right ... to think"


Jobbik to paste over billboards

The conservative Jobbik party has launched a campaign to "correct" the government's billboards by pasting strips of paper over its slogans, the party spokesman said. Jobbik wants to communicate that while "Brussels has not settled a single person in Hungary in the last three years", the Hungarian government has "let in 86,000 immigrants", Péter Jakab said.

He said the cheap workforce allowed into the country from Ukraine keeps wages low, thus immigrants "are granted more rights than those born here". Jakab cited as an example free accommodation, travel and language courses for Venezuelans coming to the country. "If there is in fact a state of emergency due to mass migration, that was caused by the Hungarian government."

Jakab called it unacceptable that the Hungarian government had vetoed the EU's pact with the Arab League at a summit in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. That pact would have been a tool to control migration at the countries of origin, he said. "It seems the Orbán government is hoping for more illegal migrants coming to Hungary so that they can use them in the campaign."

Regarding the initiative to exclude Fidesz from the EPP, Jakab said "[Prime Minister] Viktor Orbán would do anything for power and money, he would even jeopardise Hungary's EU membership". Fidesz's "opening to the East will bring about a closure to the West," he said.


Socialists call on Orbán 'not to flee' EPP

The opposition Socialist Party has called on Orbán "not to flee" the European People's Party. Socialist Party leader Bertalan Tóth said Orbán was organising a "populist far-right political community in Europe which would have a negative impact on all European citizens, including Hungarians". Tóth said the prime minister was allying himself with "extremist parties" that are open about their good relationships with Russian President Vladimir Putin and were working to divide Europe.

Tóth said Orbán's policies were gradually marginalising Hungary, which he said was especially dangerous now that EU member states are busy negotiating the bloc's next budget. Commenting on the suggestion that Orbán has called for calm over the Fidesz-EPP dispute and the head of the Prime Minister's Office saying that Fidesz wants to contest the European parliamentary elections as a member of the EPP, Tóth said the issue was not about Fidesz wanting to quit the EPP, but rather about 12 EPP members having called for the Hungarian ruling party's expulsion from the centre-right bloc.


Fidesz under 'pro-migration attack': Orbán

Fidesz has been "attacked by pro-migration forces" within the European People's Party, Orbán said on public broadcaster Kossuth Radio. He insisted that those forces seek to "turn the whole EPP into an international pro-migration organisation" while "the Hungarians want to thwart that ... No compromise is possible when it comes to migration and protecting Christian culture".

Orbán said he has recently had talks with Juncker and EPP group leader Manfred Weber, and added that he would visit Poland to attend a celebration of its NATO membership anniversary.

He said he was seeking to "change, reform" the EPP so that "it also embraces anti-migration forces", but said that "this dispute might reveal that our place is not within the EPP but outside ... If it turns out that we need to come up with a new initiative in Europe, the first place we will have talks is Poland." He noted that Poland's Law and Justice party is not a member of the EPP.


DK poster complaint rejected
The National Election Committee has dismissed a complaint submitted by the opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) concerning the government billboard campaign. In a vote, the committee supported a proposal by chairman Péter Rádi who said the committee was not entitled to assess DK's complaint because it was not authorised to assess campaign activities outside the campaign period. The campaign period for the European parliamentary election would start on April 6. DK said the rejection of the party's complaint showed that the committee had become part of the "party state". Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has "admitted in an interview with the BBC that the government's new billboards showing Juncker serve the purpose of an election campaign", DK deputy leader Csaba Molnar said.



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