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Every element of Hungarian government policymaking follows from its anti-migration standpoint, Zoltán Kovács, the state secretary for international communications and relations, said. The driving force behind Hungary’s economic strategy is that the economy should not depend on migration but on capturing local resources available in central Europe, he told Hungarian and British media in the Hungarian embassy in London. Hungary does not plan to address the demands of its labour market by “making use of the several hundred thousands of outsiders who turn up every year”, he added.

Kovács said the Hungarian government’s standpoint on almost every issue connected to the European Union and public life in Hungary leads back to the issue of migration and how the resulting problems are tackled. Decisions made in areas such as demographics, social institutions, social measures and institutional policies follow from the government’s clear anti-migration position, he said, adding that Hungary’s era of cheap labour is bygone and its government is creating an employment environment that caters to high value-added production and high-level skills.

Kovács said that whereas it was possible to address labour shortages and the resulting structural problems by employing migrants, there was a better solution in the form of fostering an environment that helps Hungarian families bring up more children. “This is the path we have chosen.” In the past eight years, the Hungarian government has developed a system where the support granted to families exceeds 4% of GDP, he said. Kovács added that this was among the highest within the OECD group of developed countries.

Commenting on recent amendments to the labour code, he insisted that these were fully in line with European norms. In most western European countries, the top limits and recommendations for overtime work exceed the levels included in the Hungarian law, he said. Accusations that the amendments are anti-worker and unusual in western Europe “are simply lies and lack any factual basis”, he added. The protests of recent months in Hungary have been part of the European parliamentary election campaign. Surveys show that Hungary’s opposition is more fragmented than ever and the parties are responding to their need to attract attention to themselves. They have zeroed in on a single issue and found a wayward way of demonstrating, he said.