BUDAPEST – Europe has the ability to stop the flow of migrants reaching the continent but its leaders have no plans to do so, Hungary’s prime minister declared Sunday.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been at the forefront of those rejecting the refugees and asylum-seekers flooding into Europe due to conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Hungary last year built razor-wire fences on its borders with Serbia and Croatia to stop the migrants from freely entering the country — moves that altered the flow of migrants across Europe.
“It is bad enough that Brussels cannot organize Europe’s defense, but worse is that even the intention is missing,” Orban said in his annual speech about the state of the country.
Orban described the EU response to the migrant crisis as “absurd” and compared EU leadership to the captain of a ship about to collide who spends time “designating the nonsmoking lifeboats instead of trying to avoid the collision.”
“Europe’s future is endangered primarily not by those who want to come here, but by those political, economic and intellectual leaders who are trying to transform Europe in opposition to the European people,” Orban said, blaming German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcoming response to refugees as one of the factors responsible for the crisis.
Orban said he had asked his interior and defense ministers to prepare to build new defenses on the Romanian border.
“We will teach Brussels, the human traffickers and the migrants that Hungary is sovereign country,” Orban told an audience of steadfast supporters who often interrupted his speech with applause.
Orban declared that mass migration was a “danger” that put at risk Hungary’s achievements of the last few years and was not an answer to Europe’s problems.
“We cannot solve the demographic problems of the undeniably dwindling and aging European population with the Muslim world without losing our lifestyle, security and ourselves,” Orban said. “Those coming here have no intention of adapting to our lifestyle.”
In Rome, meanwhile, Pope Francis said a concerted response was needed to solve Europe’s migrant problem so that countries share equally the burden of helping those fleeing war and other “inhumane” situations.
Francis praised Greece and other countries offering “generous” help while being on the front line of the arrivals. Speaking in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, Francis said a “concerted response can be more effective and distribute equally the weight” of helping the migrants.
Orban, however, said Hungary would continue to oppose EU plans for a quota system to redistribute over 100,000 migrants among its 28 nations and claimed Brussels was also looking to set up a “mandatory, permanent and continuous redistribution system” for the migrants.
“Brussels must be stopped,” Orban said. “We can’t allow them to force us … to import the bitter fruits of their mistaken immigration policies. We don’t want to and won’t import crime, terrorism, homophobia and anti-Semitism into Hungary.”
Hungary has sued Brussels over the refugee quota plan and Orban said last week that the government was hoping to hold a national referendum on any further EU attempts to impose migrant quotas.
As 2,000 opposition supporters leveled protests at Orban, the prime minister said Hungarians did not have a “heart of stone” and wanted to help those in need.
“Most migrants are also victims of their collapsing governments of their countries, of bad international decisions and of human traffickers,” Orban said. “We keep in mind the most important rule of assistance — if we help here, they will come here. If we help there, they will stay there.”