Hungary's Orban blasts 'rude' Germany over refugee crisis

AFP , Thursday 25 Feb 2016

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses a press conference at the Delegation Hall of the parliament building in Budapest on February 24, 2016 (Photo: AFP)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban hit out Thursday at Germany's "rude and aggressive" tone over Europe's refugee crisis and its proposals for national migrant quotas, which he has vehemently opposed.

"Today, the tone from Germany is gruff, rude and aggressive," Orban, a strident critic of Chancellor Angela Merkel's liberal refugee policy, told Bild daily.

"Germany's refugee policy is not without alternative," the Hungarian leader said in remarks published a day after he announced a referendum on whether to accept mandatory EU quotas for migrants.

The hardline leader is deeply opposed to an EU plan to distribute 160,000 asylum-seekers among member states under a quota system.

"The quotas will change the profile of Europe, from an ethnic, cultural and religious point of view," he argued in a lengthy interview.

Orban also warned that an uncontrolled migrant influx exposed Europe to the risks of "terrorism, criminality, anti-Semitism and homophobia".

Pointing to the New Year's debacle in western Germany's Cologne, where hundreds of women reported being groped in a crowd of migrants, Orban said: "I have four daughters and I don't want my children to grow up in a world where Cologne could happen".

For him, even a deal struck by the EU and Turkey, the main launch pad for migrant sea crossings to Europe, to reduce the number of arrivals was unrealistic.

"None of the EU countries want to really apply" the deal, he said.

"The EU is now going to the Turks like a beggar," he argued about the agreement with the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"We are begging Mr Erdogan -- in return for money and promises -- to secure our borders because we can't protect them ourselves," Orban said.

"That's not a good policy. Because it makes Europe's future and security reliant on the goodwill of Turkey."

Orban's stance directly contradicts that of Merkel, who backs the plan under which Turkey would seal its borders and then fly refugees to Europe where they would be settled under the quota system.

After a decade in power, Merkel has seen her long-stellar domestic approval ratings drop over her liberal migration policy since more than 1.1 million asylum seekers came to Germany last year.

Orban, meanwhile, is enjoying strong popularity at home over his tough policies aimed at keeping refugees out, including sealing his country's southern borders with razor wire and fences.

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