Hungarian prime minister says migrants are 'poison' and 'not needed'

The populist leader fuels anti-immigrant sentiment and praises Donald Trump’s foreign policy ideas as ‘vital’ for Hungary

Wednesday 27 July 2016 01.14 BST

Hungary’s right-wing prime minister Viktor Orban has described the arrival of asylum seekers in Europe as “a poison”, saying his country did not want or need “a single migrant”.

As the killing of a priest in Normandy became the latest in a string of violent attacks to shake Europe this summer, Orban fuelled fears of Middle Eastern and African immigrants as well as praising Donald Trump’s plans for US foreign policy.

“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 told a joint press conference in Budapest with Austrian chancellor Christian Kern.

“This is why there is no need for a common European migration policy: whoever needs migrants can take them, but don’t force them on us, we don’t need them,” Orban said.

The populist leader added that “every single migrant poses a public security and terror risk”.

“For us migration is not a solution but a problem ... not medicine but a poison, we don’t need it and won’t swallow it,” he said.

Orban is a fierce opponent of the European Union’s troubled plan to share migrants across the 28-nation bloc under a mandatory quota system.

Hungary has filed a legal challenge against the proposal and will hold a referendum on its participation in the scheme on October 2.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees trekked through Hungary and Austria in 2015 as they sought to reach wealthy European nations. But the flow slowed to a trickle after Orban’s government erected razor wire and fences along the southern borders last autumn and brought in tough anti-migrant laws.

Orban said the migration and foreign policy plans of the US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump were “vital” for Hungary, whereas those of his rival, the Democrat Hillary Clinton, were “deadly”.

Orban is the first European head of state to express a clear preference for either of the two candidates, who will face each other in elections in November.

Orban said the US Democrats supported migration as well as what he described as “democracy export”, while Hungary – like Trump – opposed both, “making it clear where Hungary’s interests lie”.

“The Democrats’ foreign policy is bad for Europe, and deadly for Hungary,” he said. “The migration and foreign policy advocated by the Republican candidate, Mr Trump, is good for Europe and vital for Hungary.”

Orban had on Saturday called Trump’s security policies “valiant”. His remarks came after Trump raised ire for telling the New York Times last week that he would tie any US military help to Nato allies to conditions in the event of a Russian attack.

Clinton’s campaign has struggled to contain the political fallout from a leak of thousands of emails in a hacker attack that they said was designed to help Trump. Experts and US officials say the attack came from Russia.

Both Moscow and the Trump campaign have said those claims were “absurd”.

Orban’s government has unnerved some partners with its close ties to Russia. It has secured large business deals with Moscow, such as the construction of a big new nuclear power plant, and criticised the European Union’s embargo on Russia.

“Hungary’s foreign policy has borne an eerie resemblance to Russian diplomatic interests in recent years, and indeed has been little short of an extended arm of the Russian government in foreign policy matters,” the Political Capital analyst Peter Kreko said.

“I don’t think Putin is behind the budding relationship between Trump and Orban but both are interested in improving Russian ties, so theirs is an alliance of interests.”

Reuters and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.

Hungarian prime minister says migrants are 'poison' and 'not needed ...