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Different cultural foundations produce different migration policies

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

In Warsaw, after a summit of prime ministers of the Visegrád countries (V4) and the Benelux states, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that different cultural foundations produce different migration policies.

At the joint press conference of the seven prime ministers, Mr. Orbán spoke about the issue of migration, saying that at the meeting – which was attended by countries with different cultural backgrounds and foundations – there were countries which made it clear that they do not wish to change their cultural pattern, “while others already live in a more diverse world than we do”.

This significant distance, he said, also clearly demonstrates the heroic magnitude of the task taken on by the European Union in attempting to build a common migration policy. He described this attempt as admirable, however, and though “we are progressing in small steps”, there are details which give cause for optimism.

The Prime Minister added that, therefore, “despite widely diverging positions, we continue to encourage the EU to seek to create a common concept”.

He summed up the migration views voiced at the V4-Benelux summit as follows: “there was greater agreement on the external dimension than on the internal one”.

He said, that there was agreement that the borders must be protected, that it is desirable to separate genuine refugees from other migrants as early as possible, and that agreements should be concluded with every country of origin and every transit country. Another area of agreement, Mr. Orbán said, was the necessity of compiling a joint EU list of safe third countries and countries of origin.

In closing the Prime Minister said that while opinions were divergent, it proved possible to come to an agreement on some issues, which is an extremely worthwhile result. He added that at this interesting meeting the V4 leaders had got closer to the Benelux prime ministers than he had ever thought possible.

In answer to a journalist’s question, the Prime Minister observed that “the issue of migration affects the heart of every nation” as this question is about “who we want to live alongside in a country”.

The Prime Minister noted that “It will be very difficult to reach a common position, as we have gone through different histories, we have different traditions, and we have different views on our own capability of integrating others”.

He said that while a position can be agreed which has some common elements, he has doubts concerning the development of a single European migration policy; while he sees little chance of success, Hungary is nevertheless open to negotiations.

Hungary respects the cultural differences – which are understandable for historical reasons – that exist between EU Member States, he said, and this respect leads to the conclusion that “it is right to keep the level of our ambitions low”.

Answering another question, Mr. Orbán said that, as a Central European, he sees the issue of identity as the most important one – and this is exactly what migration is related to. The anthropological foundation of the Hungarian position, he said, is that “We should not pursue an immigration policy which means that we will no longer be what we are today”.

After the summit, in a ceremony held at Warsaw’s Royal Castle on Monday afternoon, Poland handed over the presidency of the V4 to Hungary, which will hold it from this July until June 2018.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)


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