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Hungary's far-right Jobbik party wants to ban residency bond

Hungary's Prime Minister Victor Orban stands on the podium during his speech to mark the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution in Munich, Germany, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
October 18, 2016 - 10:58 AM

BUDAPEST, Hungary - Hungary's far-right Jobbik party said Tuesday it would only support the government's constitutional amendment opposing the mass settlement of migrants if it also bans a disputed arrangement offering residency permits to foreigners buying a special state bond for 300,000 euros ($330,000).

Jobbik president Gabor Vona said that his party wants "to protect Hungary from all kinds of settlements."

"We are ready to vote for the amendment of the constitution but we are not ready for partial solutions," Vona said after a meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Orban. "We can only support a solution which creates Hungary's real security."

Vona's announcement could make it harder for Orban's Fidesz party to secure the two-thirds majority needed in the legislature to approve the amendment and the government said it would consider the Jobbik request.

Plans to amend the constitution were announced by Orban after an Oct. 2 referendum against any future European Union plans to relocate asylum seekers. The referendum was invalid due to low turnout but 98 per cent of the valid votes supported the government position.

The residency bond has drawn widespread criticism because of its lack of transparency and the government's efforts to keep secret many details of the scheme introduced in 2013.

According to data from the Office of Migration and Nationality obtained by daily newspaper Magyar Nemzet, Hungary had sold bonds to 2,727 foreigners by the end of August. Since bond buyers can also apply for residency permits for their immediate families, a total of 7,559 people gained residence in Hungary under the scheme, including 6,405 from China and 497 from Russia.

Vona noted that number of foreigners settling in Hungary under the bond scheme was much higher than the 1,294 asylum seekers the European Union allocated to Hungary in a plan meant to relocate 600,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to other EU countries.

According to Transparency International Hungary, intermediary companies with murky ownership structures which sell the bonds to foreigners have already made profits of some 100 billion forints ($358 million).

"The bond program not just enables immigrants to enter the Schengen zone of the European Union without any reliable background checks, but also allows for the allocation of significant sums of public money to intermediary companies whose proprietary structure is unclear," Miklos Ligeti, legal director for Transparency International Hungary, told The Associated Press.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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