May 4, 2018 / 6:17 AM / 21 days ago

Hungary PM Orban vows tougher laws on migration, names new deputy PMs

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - After an election victory built on a fierce anti-migrant campaign, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Friday said his new government would soon bring forward tighter immigration rules.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks during a press conference in Budapest, Hungary, April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

He also named Interior Minister Sandor Pinter and Economy Minister Mihaly Varga as deputy prime ministers and gave notice he would take a tough stance against the European Union over the bloc’s next budget.

Orban was re-elected in an April landslide that gave his ruling Fidesz party a two-thirds parliamentary majority, enabling it to rewrite major laws.

One of the most vociferous opponents of Muslim immigration into Europe, Orban won a third term in power after his campaign resonated with large swathes of the electorate, particularly in rural areas.

He told public radio that his main political objectives were unchanged.

“We are building a Christian democracy,” Orban said. “An old-style Christian democracy rooted in European traditions, where human dignity is paramount and there is a separation of powers.”

“We will defend Christian culture and will not surrender the country to aliens,” Orban said.

He added that Interior Minister Pinter would be responsible for national security under a revamped structure at the top of his cabinet which would establish a centralised office under Orban that was also in charge of a unified intelligence service.

Economy Minister Varga would serve as a guarantee for financial stability and predictability, Orban said.

Mihaly Varga, Hungary's Minister for National Economy, attends the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, China January 16, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Orban also said that, given his new two-thirds majority, he would again put forward a constitutional amendment to bolster national security that failed to go through parliament in 2016.

The bill said that no foreign population from outside Europe could be settled in Hungary and that the application of European Union laws could not infringe its territorial integrity and population make-up.

“I feel obliged to implement this constitutional amendment,” Orban said, referring to his strong parliamentary mandate. He said another law aimed at foreign-backed non-government organisations, dubbed the “Stop Soros” bill, would follow.

Orban has accused non-governmental organisations (NGOs) funded by Budapest-born billionaire George Soros of political meddling and actively supporting migration.

The government said it wanted to ensure greater transparency, but NGOs have said the change stigmatised them.

“George Soros has a shadow army working in Hungary. We would like to bring them to light,” he said. “We would like to make it clear that migration is not a human rights issue, but a national security issue.”

He said any organisation involved in the migration issue would have to seek clearance from national security authorities, while any foreign nationals supporting illegal immigration would be banned from Hungary.

Orban also said he would not support any European Union budget that would provide funding for immigrants, flagging more conflicts with Brussels in the wake of a new proposal to cut funding for some member states.

“This will be a long debate and series of negotiations,” Orban said. “In the end, there will have to be unanimity. Hungarians should not worry. There will be no budget until the Hungarians say it is a go.”

Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Toby Chopra

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