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Government’s ‘Stop Brussels’ campaign revs up

Despite heavy criticism Hungarian government officials received during the last European Parliament meeting for its “Stop Brussels” communication, the “national consultation” appeared to have intensified, even while the government says it is “committed” to the EU and aims to “change it from within”.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán arriving at the European Union summit on April 29, 2017. With him were Antal Rogán, the Minister heading the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister (second left), and Bertalan Havasi, head of the Press Office of the Prime Minister (second right). (Photo: Balázs Szecsődi / kormany.hu)

A new television and radio spot claims that it is “outrageous” that Brussels “wants to settle illegal immigrants” in Hungary, adding that “Soros funded organizations keep suing the Hungarian government”. Although the European Commission attacked the “national consultation” for carrying “false claims” in a detailed press statement, the government does not appear to be toning down its campaign.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in a press statement issued on May 1 on the official government website kormany.hu that it is time for facts to be more important in Brussels than opinions, and for the EU to also finally regard illegal immigration as its most important challenge and handle it accordingly. “We expect the Hungarians to be given the respect they have a right to, and we draw the attention of the Brussels bureaucrats to the fact that while they are centered on Hungary, the country is defending the borders of the European Union from illegal immigration,” Szijjártó said.

Also yesterday, in another entry on kormany.hu, Minister of State for Government Communication Bence Tuzson stressed that “the National Consultation is not anti-European, and in fact it is distinctly pro-European and is aimed at reforming the EU through protecting issues that fall within a national sphere of competence”.

He added that Hungary is under “never before seen pressure”, and accordingly there has never been a more important time for the people of Hungary to stand up in defence of the country’s interests. Earlier Tuzson was reported as saying that “over half a million people” have sent their “national consultation questionnaires” back. Hungary’s population is estimated to be over nine million.

The European People’s Party, of which Fidesz is a member, tagged the national consultation as “misleading”, and criticised Fidesz’ anti-EU tone, according to Hungarian online news portal index.hu.