Thursday

23rd Mar 2017

Hungary steps up campaign on migration referendum

  • Hungary was the first EU state to slam shut its borders to migrants (Photo: Michael Gubi)

Hungary's government has stepped up its campaign in a referendum on EU migration quotas, unveiling billboards linking migration with terrorism and crime.

"Did you know? The Paris attacks were committed by migrants," claimed one billboard recently published on the government's website, set up ahead of the 2 October vote.

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Another billboard asks: "Did you know that since the start of the migration crisis there has been a sharp increase in the number of harassments against women in Europe?"

"Did you know that Brussels wants to deport the equivalent of a town of migrants to Hungary?" asks another billboard.

According to a previous EU agreement, which Hungary has challenged at the EU's top court, the country should have taken in around 1,200 refugees.

In all, six billboards have been unveiled, with one of them asking: "Did you know that since that start of the migration crisis 300 people have died in terrorist attacks in Europe?"

The question to eight million Hungarian voters on 2 October will be: “Do you want the European Union to be entitled to prescribe the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary without the consent of parliament?”

Government official Bence Tuzsor said the aim of the campaign was "to draw attention to the consequences of the failed migration policy of Brussels".

The adverts will also appear in newspapers, online media, in television and radio commercials, he added in the same interview with Hungarian news wire MTI on Monday (18 July).

The referendum on EU migration policy was first announced by the Hungarian government in February.

European Parliament president Martin Schulz has earlier dismissed the referendum, saying the ballot is “populist and nationalist response to a global challenge.”

The European Commission said the referendum's result would not have legal consequences for EU's policies. "The decision making process agreed to by all EU Member States and as enshrined in the treaties in any case remains the same," the bloc's executive said.

Stakes grow in Hungary's migration referendum

Orban's referendum on migration in October is designed to alter EU policy and boost his popularity. But in the post-Brexit climate it could mark a bigger anti-EU swerve.

UN concerned by Hungary's migrant push-backs

UN refugee agency has voiced concerns over new Hungarian rules leading to push-backs of asylum seekers and urged authorities to investigate reports of violence.

French candidates avoid EU debate

In their first TV debate, the main candidates for the April election only briefly discussed the country's EU policies, with far-right Le Pen and centrist Macron taking aim at each other.

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