Orbán blasts EU approach to refugee crisis

Ahead of key migration summit, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán says the EU needs a new, tougher approach to the refugee crisis.

By William Louch

23 Oct 2015

In a controversial speech at the annual meeting of the centre-right European People's Party's (EPP), Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian Prime Minister, called on Europe to toughen its stance on the refugee crisis.

He delivered his speech, in front of several leading European politicians, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk.

Orbán refused to acknowledge that the EU was genuinely dealing with a refugee crisis, instead labelling it, "a migratory movement composed of economic migration." He added that when seeking a solution to the issue "we have to throw away political correctness and launch a big debate."


He also called on European leaders across the political divide to drastically change their immigration policies, saying, "with the rise of these new crises, old ways do not work anymore - we need to experiment with new ideas and not attack those who do for trying."

Orbán was particularly critical of left wing political parties, arguing they have a "clear agenda" and accusing them of "importing future leftist voters to Europe."

When defining a solution, he said it was "our [Europe's] moral responsibility is to give these people back their lives and countries… not a new European life."

The inflammatory speech is likely to divide opinion within the EPP. The group has struggled to hold a common line on a number of key issues this year, most notably how to tackle the flow of refugees into the EU.

The unprecedented influx of refugees into Europe, many of whom are fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, has divided the continent over the best solutions. This division is highlighted by the actions of two leaders - Merkel and Orbán - both present at the meeting.

Germany, led by Angela Merkel, has been widely praised for its humane approach to the crisis. She has been lauded for showing "moral leadership" on the issue. Germany is expected to process the arrival of 800,000 refugees this year.

Hungary, by contrast, has closed its borders with Croatia, voted to deploy troops to repel refugees and ordered strip-searching of migrants.

The EU is currently focusing its efforts on reaching an agreement aimed to stem the flow of refugees from Turkey into Europe.

As host to almost 2 million refugees, Turkey plays a key strategic role on the issue.. If negotiations are concluded successfully the EU would, among other things, grant Turkey a €4bn financial aid package.

Orbán condemned this approach, saying, "Europe is currently rich and weak… this is a dangerous mix."

He added, "If we expect the solution from Turkey, we are exposed. This is the current situation of Europe. To avoid that, we have to protect our borders. If we can't do it in Greece … we have to do it at the western gate of the Balkans: Hungary."

As the crisis in the Western Balkans worsens, Juncker has arranged a mini-summit with heads of state from the affected countries. The aim of the meeting is to achieve greater cooperation and agree an action plan that can be implemented immediately.

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