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Defiant Orban Says Hungary Won't Change Migration Policy, Despite EU Court Ruling

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban: "We will maintain the existing regime, even if the European court ordered us to change it."

Budapest will stick to its immigration laws despite a European court ruling, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on December 21, as his nationalist FIDESZ party is bracing for what promises to be a closely fought national election due early next year.

"The government decided that we will not do anything to change the system of border protection," Orban told a news conference in Budapest. "We will maintain the existing regime, even if the European court ordered us to change it. We will not change it and will not let anyone in."

Last month, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that Budapest broke EU law by allowing police to physically "push back" asylum seekers across the Serbian border.

When Orban's justice minister asked Hungary's Constitutional Court to review the CJEU ruling, the court ruled that Budapest has the right to apply its own measures in areas where the European Union has yet to take adequate steps for common implementation of EU rules.

But the court also struck down the government's bid to challenge the European court's decision.

The conflict with the EU over democratic standards has prompted a freeze in EU recovery funding to Hungary, dealing a blow to Orban's hopes for reelection since the country's economy relies heavily on the funds from the bloc to boost growth.

Orban, 58, faces a united opposition as inflation hit at a 14-year-high and the budget deficit has spiked to record levels.

Orban, whose anti-immigration stance boosted support for Fidesz after the 2015 migrant crisis, said that migration and LGBT rights -- the two main issues which have caused conflict with the bloc -- would dominate the campaign agenda.

He said he would also pursue another contested issue: a referendum on LGBT rights.

The referendum will ask whether people support sexual orientation workshops in schools without parental consent and whether they believe gender reassignment procedures should be "promoted" among children.

With reporting by Reuters
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