Hungary’s populist and right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Tuesday (26 July) that the migration and the arrival of refugees in Europe is a “poison”. When speaking at a press conference with his Austrian counterpart, Christian Kern, he said that “Hungary does not need a single migrant for the economy to work, or the population to sustain itself, or for the country to have a future”.
He added that this was the reason why there was “no need for a common European migration policy”. He commented that “whoever needs migrants can take them, but don’t force them on us, we don’t need them”. Mr Orban added that every single migrant posed a public security and terror risk. “For us migration is not a solution but a problem… not medicine but a poison, we don’t need it and won’t swallow it,” he said.
The Hungarian government has sued the European Union over its plan to redistribute migrants across the block and will hold a referendum on this issue on 2 October. Orban’s cabinet is a fierce opponent of the EU’s response to the migration crisis and has erected razor wire and fences along the country’s border with Serbia to discourage migrants from choosing Hungary as a transit route to richer EU countries. However, despite these “measures”, their numbers have been on rise again with estimated 18,000 migrants having crossed the border this year. Moreover, Budapest has also introduced other controversial policies, such as the forced return to “no-man’s land” between Hungary and Serbia of any refugee found within 8 kilometers of the southern border.
Austria was initially a harsh critic of Hungary’s hardline treatment of refugees, but earlier this month Vienna promised to send 20 police officers to the Serbian border. Mr Kern, who visited Hungary for the first time since he assumed office in May, stressed that migration to Austria and Germany had declined thanks to Hungary’s measures and therefore “if we are beneficiaries from this process, then we have to assist it”.