BARBED WORDS

Hungary’s prime minister says migrants are a “poison” and his country doesn’t need any

Hungary’s far-right prime minister, Viktor Orbán, said on Tuesday (July 26) that the influx of asylum seekers in Europe is a “poison,” and his country doesn’t need them, AFP reports.

“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 said during a joint press conference in Budapest with Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern. (His stance is belied by numbers showing a dearth of skilled labor (link in Hungarian): 350,000 Hungarians under 40 with a high level education left the country in last 25 years or so.)

Orbán has been making anti-migrant comments, verbally and on giant billboards, since the refugee crisis peaked last summer.

At an event in Baile Tusnad, Romania, an area with a large Hungarian population, Orbáan said (link in Hungarian) “migration is killing us,” and he expressed his admiration for the American Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s rhetoric. “I listened to [Trump] and I have to tell you that he made three proposals to stop terrorism,” he said. “And as a European, I myself could not have drawn up better what Europe needs.”

Orbán also made the argument that Europe is for Europeans in religious terms. “Is it not worrying in itself that European Christianity is now barely able to keep Europe Christian?” he asked. “There is no alternative, and we have no option but to defend our borders.”

Hungarians will vote in a referendum on Oct. 2 on whether to accept quotas for resettling asylum seekers currently held in camps, which the EU plans to impose on most member states. If it refuses the quotas, Hungary could face EU-imposed financial charges—€250,000 ($278,000) per refugee—for refusing to accept its share of asylum seekers, and could also end up forgoing additional aid from the EU to support refugees.

As Orbán continues to make anti-migrant statements, the fate of the estimated 1,294 people in camps whose future will be determined by the vote remains far from certain.

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