Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban slammed the EU’s handling of the refugee crisis and approach to migration policy in a speech in Malta.

Laying bare the stark divisions that persist in Europe over issues of immigration and asylum, Mr Orban, a known hardliner, said that “migration turned out to to be the Trojan horse of terrorism.”

He warned that Europe’s “Christian identity” is under threat.

Mr Orban was speaking at a conference of EU centre-right leaders that was also attended by German leader Angela Merkel, who clashed fundamentally with the Hungarian premier on how to handle the hundreds of thousands of refugees who crossed the Balkans in 2015.

As Ms Merkel looked on, and with some delegates visibly uncomfortable, Mr Orban said that Muslim immigrants were living in “parallel societies” and warned of a future in which the continent would be dominated by Islam.

“We are living proof that defence is possible,” he said.

Ms Merkel, in her remarks, strongly defended Europe’s performance in the crisis.

Without mentioning Mr Orban, she countered criticisms of Germany and the EU’s decision to welcome large numbers of refugees in 2015, saying it was a necessary response to previous policy failures and “the right thing to do.”

“The truth is we looked away when it came to funding the refugee camps [outside Europe]. We did not look at things too closely,” she said, adding that this had allowed a humanitarian catastrophe to develop.

“That was why we took in refugees.”

The chancellor also defended the EU’s later step of striking a deal with Turkey that effectively closed the Western Balkan route for migrants seeking to reach Europe.

“We cannot accept everybody who is not doing well,” she said. “We cannot have a repeat of 2015.”

Image via Bloomberg

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2023. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window) CommentsJump to comments section

Follow the topics in this article


Comments have not been enabled for this article.