Hungary: Activists blow whistles on prime minister's speech

AP News
Posted: Mar 15, 2017 10:53 AM
Hungary: Activists blow whistles on prime minister's speech

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Opposition activists with whistles and horns tried to spoil Prime Minister Viktor Orban's speech on Wednesday commemorating Hungary's 1848 revolution against the Habsburgs.

Speaking outside the National Museum, Orban again took aim at the European Union bureaucracy in Brussels and international financial powers, saying they were not concerned about Hungary's past and future and that the country needs to be protected from migration.

Several hundred protesters, many of them supporters of the small opposition party Egyutt (Together), blew referee whistles and horns and made Orban's speech hard to hear in different areas around the National Museum.

Together chairman Peter Juhasz said the protest was an act of last resort due to Orban's isolation.

"Viktor Orban is unwilling to face the public in any forum and he is unwilling to publicly debate opposition politicians," Juhasz said. "He does not answer questions from independent journalists and citizens have no way of giving him feedback."

Together, which holds two of the 199 seats in parliament, describes itself as a "sober, centrist" party of liberal democrats opposed to populism.

Late Tuesday, a court order revoked a police ban on the whistling, but only Orban supporters with special invitations were allowed close to the platform from where the prime minister spoke. While some there was some pushing between Orban supporters and those whistling, there was no repeat of the violent confrontations at a similar event last October.

Orban, an early supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump especially because of his anti-migration stance and disdain for political correctness, suggested that other countries in Europe would follow in the footsteps of the United States and Britain in breaking with the status quo.

"In the past year, nations have again rebelled," Orban said. "They rebelled against the hypocritical alliance of the Brussels bureaucrats, the liberal global media and the bottomless paunch of international capital."

"This year, it will be continued," Orban said in reference to elections Wednesday in The Netherlands and later this year in France and Germany.

He reiterated his opposition to an EU scheme to relocate asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to other EU countries until their asylum requests are decided.

"We must stop Brussels," Orban said. "We must protect our borders. We must block the relocation (of migrants)."

Orban's new policy aimed at keeping all asylum seekers, including children older than 14, in container camps on the Serbian border, has drawn sharp criticism from United Nations agencies, the Council of Europe and human rights groups.