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We must act, rather than surrender

Mr. Orbán said that if one asks whether the masses of people heading for Europe can be stopped with physical barriers and military measures, the answer is “yes”. Naturally it would be best for Hungary, he said, if migrants were stopped as far south as possible; this is why Hungary is happy to help Serbia, Bulgaria, or indeed Macedonia. He described cooperation with the peoples of the Balkans as important.

The Prime Minister dismissed as “nihilism” an approach to migrants which states that “we cannot stop them anyway […] so instead we should start considering how to take them in”. There are people with good intentions in Brussels, he said, but they are naive, and “in a difficult situation like this, naivety can backfire”.

The Prime Minister said that if the United States is able to use physical barriers along its southern border to stop the many people who would like to enter, then “I cannot see why we Europeans would not be able to do so”.

The migration crisis is an issue, he continued, in which it is absolutely obvious that “the concept of ‘more Europe’ is unhelpful; the solution lies in helping every nation state discharge the obligation to protect its borders which it undertook in the Schengen Agreement”. At present, however, the exact reverse is the case, he said, because Brussels wants to take away nation states’ powers related to migrants.

Regarding the migrant quota referendum on 2 October, he said that “the stakes are high”, because if the mandatory relocation scheme is implemented, “money will be taken away from us, and money will need to be given to the migrants coming here”, who will be distributed among countries and settlements. He remarked that this is also a threat for Hungary’s settlements with left-wing leaderships.

Therefore, Mr. Orbán stressed, this is not a party political matter, but a national cause – and also a personal issue for every Hungarian. He suggested that everyone “should throw away their party political spectacles”. He indicated that the referendum may also provide a legal barrier. He added that he knows what direction the country could go in after the referendum, but now everything depends on the degree of unity shown.

Hungary is working to stop the European Commission’s decision on the distribution of migrants – in the European Council, if not in the European Parliament. “This would be an unprecedented achievement”, he said.

Concerning the informal EU summit being held in Bratislava on Friday, he said that we must face up to the recent mistakes made by the EU, the two gravest consequences of which are Brexit and the unmanageable public security and terrorism situation resulting from the failure to stop uncontrolled immigration.

Regarding the migration crisis, the Prime Minister drew attention to the fact that while illegal immigration is now mostly entering the continent through Italy, the onset of autumn and more difficult conditions on sea routes mean that we can expect the migration pressure to return to the Balkans route, and “we’ll have to face a great deal of pressure at the fences erected on the border”.

He also repeated his view that help must be taken to the places from which migrants are coming, rather than problems being brought here, because “if we give them money here, everyone will want to come here”.

The Prime Minister added that when preparing for the summit in Bratislava, members of the Visegrád 4 (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) coordinated their positions, and they are planning to issue a joint V4 document containing a number of proposals which they will submit to the European Council.

In the interview Mr. Orbán also advocated providing financial assistance for Bulgaria, stating that the Bulgarian fence must be reinforced, and that money must be contributed to their border defence effort. In his view there is a good chance of achieving this, as it would be unfair if the EU abandoned an EU Member State coping with the pressure of migration, while “sending money by the sackful to others outside the EU”.