Orbán says immigration only means trouble

Viktor Orbán. Budapest, 2011. [Europa Pont]

Immigration to Europe should be largely halted, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said late yesterday (11 January), demanding a robust EU response to last week’s killings in France.

Orbán was speaking after attending a mass rally in Paris to pay tribute to 17 people killed in attacks launched by a trio of Islamist extremists, who were born in France to immigrant families.

The deadly attacks look certain to bolster anti-immigration movements around Europe, and Orbán, who has called for migration curbs in the past, said it was time for Brussels to get tough.

“We should not look at economic immigration as if it had any use, because it only brings trouble and threats to European people,” he told state television. “Therefore, immigration must be stopped. That’s the Hungarian stance.”

The only exception, he said, should be for people claiming political asylum.

“Hungary will not become a target destination for immigrants,” he said. “We will not allow it, at least as long as I am prime minister and as long as this government is in power.”

Orbán’s right-wing government was elected for a second consecutive term last year. The prime minister said minorities living in Hungary, which has a population of some 10 million, posed no particular problem.

“We do not want to see a significant minority among ourselves that has different cultural characteristics and background. We would like to keep Hungary as Hungary,” he added.

According to the national statistics office (KSH), some 350,000 Hungarians live and worked abroad, most of them in Germany, Britain and Austria. 

Asked by EURACTIV to comment on Orbán’s statements, European Commission Spokesperson Natasha Bertaud said that the Commission’s own positions on migration had been formulated in the political programme of the EU executive.

The programme says that in order to tackle the growing pressure at EU’s external borders, the European Commission is developing a European Agenda on Migration, which will balance a fairer and responsible approach to legal migration, in order to make the Union “an attractive destination for talent and skills, with firm measures against irregular migration and people trafficking and smuggling”.

“Improving the management of migration means better linking our migration policy with our external policy, fostering greater internal and external cooperation, offering protection to persons in need, based on responsibility and solidarity and preventing tragic events such as those recurrently happening in the Mediterranean,” the programme also states.

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