Many Hungarians, mainly Roma, who seek asylum in Canada claim they are escaping political oppression but in fact have been motivated by generous social benefits, a government statement said on Thursday.
“Hungary is a democratic constitutional state … observes human rights and anyone who seeks political asylum in another country, referring to a ‘quasi-fascist dictatorship’, does not speak the truth,” the Human Resources Ministry statement said.
Hungarian nationals who immigrated to Canada were motivated by the prospect of financial benefits offered under Canada’s immigration law, the ministry said.
Canada recently changed the law with the likely outcome that Hungarian asylum-seekers will sent back in an expedited procedure. The law is expected to take effect later this month.
“The message of the Canadian decision for them is that the future cannot be built on benefits but on hard work,” the ministry’s statement said.
“The Hungarian Roma have their future in Hungary; though it is obviously not easy to prosper as a Roma in Hungary, the government’s programmes seek to provide an opportunity for all to get training and find their place on the labour market,” the statement said.
In response to the Canadian decision, Hungary’s National Roma Self-Government (ORO) called for a distinction to be made between economic and political refugees, and urged action to be taken against human smugglers who take abuse refugee rights.
ORO head Florian Farkas said in a statement that the Roma authority was committed to participating in government programmes which sought to ensure work and a decent living for poor people, Roma and non-Roma alike.
The ORO statement also expressed agreement with the Human Resources Ministry, arguing that people emigrating from Hungary on political grounds had no sufficient reason to do so.
Imre Helyes, counsellor at the Hungarian embassy in Ottawa, told MTI by phone that around 4,500 Hungarians had applied for refugee status in the country in 2011, and 700 did so in the first three months this year.
The official added that the vast majority of applicants eventually withdraw their claim and return to Hungary on a voluntary basis.
“The applicants themselves demonstrate that they have no valid reason,” Helyes said.
After a visa-free period of seven years starting in the 1990s, Canada re-introduced a visa regime for Hungarian nationals in 2001 due to the large number of immigrants, mostly Roma, arriving from Hungary. The visa requirement was lifted for Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia in 2008, which triggered another influx of immigrants.