In the preface to the Hungarian edition of his book, “Out of Concern for Europe”, Helmut Kohl has written that the continent cannot become the new home for millions of people. EURACTIV’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.
In the lead up to his meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Tuesday (19 April) former German chancellor Helmut Kohl has criticised the opening up of borders to refugees in Europe. “The solution lies in the affected regions. Not in Europe. Europe cannot be the new home for millions of people in need,” Kohl wrote in the preface to the Hungarian edition of his book, ”Out of concern for Europe”, which was published in an abbreviated form in Der Tagesspiegel on Sunday (17 April).
Kohl, one of only three people to be granted the status of Honorary Citizen of Europe, also criticised the refugee policy of Angela Merkel, without actually referring to her by name. The ex-chancellor voiced his disapproval of Merkel’s September 2015 decision to invite refugees from Hungary to continue their journey on to Germany. Kohl also criticised the fact that the current chancellor did not discuss the matter with her EU partners beforehand.
Additionally, Kohl went on to list Viktor Orbán, one of Merkel’s fiercest opponents when it comes to her so-called “open-door policy”, as “my friend”. On European questions, “I know that I agree with my friend Viktor Orbán”. On Tuesday, Kohl intends to welcome the Hungarian prime minister at his home.
Kohl believes that the refugee crisis is an “acid test” for the EU, adding that a “relapse into an old nation-state mentality” would “endanger our peace and our freedom”. The ex-chancellor urged the bloc, in addition to the humanitarian aspects, to bear in mind Europe’s “well-founded cultural and security interests”. Many refugees come “from different cultural backgrounds. They follow, to a great extent, faiths other than the Judeo-Christian faith, which is one of the foundations of our values and society,” he added.
He also recommended that member state governments work “more together instead of against each other, showing more trust than distrust, and more reliability and predictability in dealing with each other”. He also emphasised the need for “European unity in diversity”. National peculiarities deserve respect and should be treated as an asset, he continued. This also includes the “deep desire of Hungary for freedom that makes the country so valuable to Europe”. He thanked Hungary for its decision to open the border to DDR refugees in the summer of 1989.
Kohl concluded that he is currently “full of confidence, yet at the same time full of concern”. Europe must “pull together once again. Hungary should not be absent from this.”