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Orban says EU can't force Hungary to change immigration rules

Hungarian President Viktor Orban said his country will not change its harsh immigration rules. His statements come after the EU's top court found the country's legislation contradicts EU law.

Hungarian President Viktor Orban

Hungarian President Viktor Orban accused the EU of "political blackmail" for withholding recovery funds

Hungarian President Viktor Orban said Tuesday that his country would not alter its strict immigration laws in the wake of a ruling from the EU's top court recently that said Hungary's laws contravened EU law.

"The entire procedure is the most brutal sabotage of the unity and future of the European Union," Orban told reporters in Budapest. "This is what is breaking up the Union."

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Why are the EU and Orban at odds?

The EU and Orban are at odds over the EU's jurisdiction and more concretely Hungary's laws on immigration and LGBTQ affairs.

Last year, the European Court of Justice determined Hungary pushed back refugees and asylum-seekers into neighboring Serbia as well as detaining would-be migrants in "transit zones" along the border with its Balkan neighbor.

Orban said, "Hungary must continue to defend its borders."

He added, "We decided that we will not do anything to change the way the border is protected. We won't change it and we aren't going to let anyone in."

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What is the cost to Hungary in this feud?

Hungary's unwillingness to go along with the European Court of Justice's ruling might mean the EU lobs hefty fines on the country. In September, the EU began fining Poland €1 million ($1.13 million) a day, which Warsaw has vowed not to pay, over the supervisory body for its judiciary.

Hungary has already lost its ability to access €7.2 billion ($8.1 billion) in recovery funds from Brussels for failing to comply with anti-corruption measures to check how the funds would be spent.

Orban called the recovery funds "political blackmail" Tuesday and said the EU had "no right" to withhold the cash.

Earlier this month, Hungary was forced to suspend $1 billion in investments due to budget shortfalls, the result of the highest inflation in 14 years.

ar/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)