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Hungary may amend constitution to block migrant resettlement

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks during a press conference concerning the referendum held in Hungary last Sunday on the European Commission's proposed mandatory resettlement of migrants in member states of EU following an extraordinary session of the faction of the Fidesz party in the Parliament in Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. (Zsolt Szigetvary/MTI via AP)
October 04, 2016 - 10:01 AM

BUDAPEST, Hungary - Hungary's prime minister announced Tuesday he will propose amendments to the constitution banning the mass settlement of migrants without parliament's approval.

Viktor Orban said that the amendment would reflect the will of 3.3 million voters who, in a weekend referendum, supported the government's opposition to any future attempts by the European Union to relocate asylum seekers. The referendum, nonetheless, was invalidated by low turnout.

"There are 3.3 million people in Hungary who decided that they won't allow anyone else to decide on ... the matter of settlement and migrants," Orban told reporters in parliament. "This cannot remain without consequences in politics, if there is still democracy in Hungary."

Orban said the composition of a country's population was part of its "constitutional identity," which Brussels had no right to change.

It was uncertain whether any opposition lawmakers would help pass the amendment, which needs a two-thirds majority.

The far-right Jobbik party said it would support any amendment similar to ones it proposed earlier this year. However, Fidesz parliamentary faction leader Lajos Kosa said the Jobbik proposals on blocking the settlement of migrants were retroactive and would lead Hungary out of the EU. Jobbik president Gabor Vona rejected Kosa's assertions.

The Socialists, the largest opposition group in parliament, said it was "not legitimate" to amend the constitution based on an invalid referendum and without approval from a majority of voters.

"Most voters, 5 million people, decided not to take part in the meaningless, expensive and lying drama," the Socialist Party said in a statement.

Hungary is also challenging the EU at the European Court of Justice on a 2015 decision to relocate 1,294 asylum-seekers to Hungary from the 160,000 the EU agreed to move from Greece and Italy.

Orban said that the constitutional amendment, which could be approved by mid-November, would not apply retroactively to the court case.

Orban has said his "zero migrants" policy is meant to safeguard Europe's Christian identity and culture from the mostly Muslim migrants and refugees.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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