Orbán to Juncker: ‘Hungary not immigrant country’
In a letter to the European Commission president, Hungary’s prime minister has insisted that the commission president’s “interpretation of solidarity conforms neither to EU law nor the historical traditions of Hungary”.
“Unlike some other major EU member states, Hungary does not have a colonial past,” the PM said, adding that immigrant countries had obligations arising from their colonial past.
“Hungary is not an immigrant country and does not want to become one.”
In the letter released to MTI by Orbán’s press chief, Viktor Orbán wrote to Jean-Claude Juncker that he was pleased that the commission president, in his recent letter to Orbán, had recognised Hungary’s efforts to protect the European Union’s external border.
“Over the past two years, Hungary has been protecting the common borders by mobilising Hungarian resources, with a heavy budgetary burden, by building a fence and deploying thousands of border guards,” the letter said. “Hungary must always behave like a Schengen-border country, but for geographical reasons, migrants cross the borders of the EU of other EU member states, and this especially applies to Greece. It is for this reason that Hungary has not participated in projects that do not make this issue clear, and it does not want to do so in future either.”
He said Hungary could not accept being forced to change. “The interpretation of the principle of solidarity described in your letter is essentially nothing other than the demand that Hungary transform itself into an immigrant country against the will of Hungarian citizens. This is not solidarity in my view but force,” Orbán wrote in the German-language letter.
The PM said he was baffled by passages in Juncker’s letter that drew a connection between the issue of migration and cohesion funding. “Such a connection does not exist; neither is it allowed by European law.”
“The Hungarian government’s view is that much of the cohesion funding lands with the companies of countries paying into the fund, so the economies of large EU member states have profited greatly from cohesion spending. This is also true of the opening of the markets of new member states.”
Orbán also expressed his “astonishment and incomprehension” at reading that the commission was disinclined to accede to Hungary’s request for border control funding. “It is my conviction that whoever refuses to support the fence, cannot and does not want to protect the citizens of the European Union.”
“Wherever there are mass attempts to cross borders illegally, without physical obstacles it is impossible to defend them,” the letter said. “If instead of defending the borders the European Commission only willingly finances measures and institutions for receiving migrants, instead of halting migration, we would give new incentives to hundreds of thousands of planning to migrate to Europe.”
“This is why I’d like to repeat the Hungarian government’s request that the European Union pay half the cost of Hungarian measures, including the fence, aimed at protecting the common Schengen borders,” Orbán wrote, adding that the costs to the Hungarian taxpayer had amounted to 270 billion forints (EUR 883m) over the past two years.
“The fence and Hungarian border hunters protect not only Hungarian citizens but Austrian, German and other EU citizens, too,” the letter concluded.