March 4, 2019 / 11:49 AM / 20 days ago

EU Commission says Hungarian campaign on migration "distorts truth"

BRUSSELS, March 4 (Reuters) - The Hungarian government’s anti-immigration campaign, which attacks the European Commission, distorts the truth and the EU executive arm will respond with equal force to set the record straight, Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.

Relations between European Union institutions and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s nationalist Fidesz ruling party have soured since the 2015 migration crisis, when Orban deployed his hardline, anti-immigration policies.

Hungary has recently launched a government information campaign on billboards and full-page newspaper ads that say European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and billionaire U.S. investor George Soros seek to open Hungary for migrants.

The Commission dismissed it as a “ludicrous conspiracy theory”, but Orban said over the weekend in an interview with the German Welt am Sonntag paper that the posters would soon also target Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans.

“The Commission has been unambiguous about our opinion of the Hungarian government campaign that distorts the truth and seeks to paint a dark picture of a secret plot to drive more migration to Europe, allegedly,” Schinas said.

“Whether this campaign targets or attacks our president, our First Vice President Frans Timmermans or any other members of staff of our institution, we will respond and defend our work with equal force to the untruths and deceiving rhetoric,” he said. (Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Jan Strupczewski)

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