Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has accused the European Union of trying to use the bloc's budget to "blackmail" countries that oppose its immigration policies.
Orban said in a statement published by state news agency MTI on November 18 that his country vetoed the European Union's 2021-2027 budget and post-coronavirus recovery fund two days earlier because it included a clause which makes access to funds conditional on respecting the rule of law. Poland also rejected the budget on similar grounds.
"In Brussels, they only view countries which let migrants in as those governed by the rule of law," Orban said in the statement.
"Once this proposal gets adopted, there will be no more obstacles to tying member states' share of common funds to supporting migration and the use of financial means to blackmail countries which oppose migration," he added.
Orban is a declared adversary of mass immigration, which he says threatens national and European identity. The EU has launched a procedure against Hungary for violating democratic rules.
The budget and the recovery package do not have any specific clauses about immigration and some analysts said Orban's comments were an attempt to get support from a domestic audience by resorting to anti-immigration rhetoric.
While saying that Hungary was committed to the rule of law, Orban added, "Those who defend their borders and defend their countries against immigration can no longer be classified as law-abiding in Brussels."