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22 October 2015

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán: ‘We are in deep trouble’

MADRID — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán faced down German Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of a key migration conference this weekend, using his most explosive arguments yet to rally his center-right political allies behind a tougher response to Europe’s refugee crisis.

We are in deep trouble,” Orbán said in remarks to the European People’s Party annual congress here, building on comments he had made Wednesday night on Hungarian television. “This is an uncontrolled and unregulated process,” one that threatens democracy because governments did not “get authorization from (citizens) for millions to walk into our continent.”

To loud applause from conservative politicians from across Europe, Orbán slammed politicians on both the left and right. He accused left-wing political parties of “importing future leftist voters to Europe” while trying to “hide it behind humanism.”

Orbán has played an outsized role in setting Europe’s migration policy agenda in recent months, pulling the continent to the right with his decisions to build border fences, deploy armed forces and order the strip searching of migrants. His approach has divided the European People’s Party, as it struggles to contain the differences emerging between governments that stretch from Germany to Hungary.

Orbán suggested Merkel and other politicians were creating chaos by not upholding EU laws and encouraging refugees to push beyond the first safe country they reach.

“Free choice of host country is not included in international law,” he said.

In a separate speech to the EPP members, Merkel hit back at Orban, saying Germany’s generosity does not preclude border security.

“We insist on the territorial intergraity of all countries in Europe. That is the basis of peaceful coexistence and we cannot make any compromises on that,” Merkel said.

Orbán argued the current refugee flow is no longer an emergency, but an “unlimited supply of people” on the move towards Europe that includes millions from Africa and “foreign fighters,” and European life was not open to them.

“The German, Hungarian or Austrian way of life is not a basic right of all people on earth,” Orbán said. “It is only a right for those people who have contributed to it. We have to help them get back their own lives, with dignity, and we have to send them back to their own countries.”

While insisting these were not anti-Muslim views (“the Muslim faith is not responsible for this mass migration”) Orbán said: “We have heartfelt compassion for the people who left their homes. They are victims … but considering them victims does not mean we must make ourselves victims.”

Orbán accused Europe of showing a weak hand in current negotiations with Turkey and in dealing with the fall-out of conflict in Syria.

“Europe is currently rich and weak,” Orbán said. “This is a dangerous mix.”

“If based on the lack of our own power we expect the solution from Turkey, we are exposed,” he said. “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.”