Speaking about Friday’s attacks in Paris in an address before the start of Parliament’s session on Monday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said the European Union has been attacked and Hungary is also in danger. According to Orbán, terrorists are deliberately exploiting mass migration to blend in among asylum seekers.
In his speech he again offered Hungary’s condolences to France, and then quoted French President François Hollande, who has said that what has happened is an act of war. Orbán, however, said that not only France and the French people are at war. France is a member of the EU, and in this respect, the EU was attacked in Paris, and “this is therefore our affair, also”, he stressed.
Orbán added that what happened last Friday night can happen elsewhere throughout Europe: “We are not safe either.”
Regarding the question of humanity, he said: “We Hungarians have been advocating the closure of our borders to stop the flood of people coming from the Middle East and Africa. We have been fiercely criticised for this by those who claim that this is not a humane approach.
“But we are faced with a question. Which approach is more humane: to close the borders in order to stop illegal immigration or to put at risk the lives of innocent European citizens?”
The prime minister stressed that the right to life takes precedence over all other rights, as does the right to self-defence. There is no ideology or economic interest of any kind which should allow us to risk the lives of European citizens, he said.
In Orbán’s view, the EU is rudderless, weak, uncertain and paralysed: “There are meetings and conferences galore but there are no solutions. We are floundering in the net of ideologies, instead of taking firm action on the basis of commonsense and our own cultural traditions.”
The leaders of a number of European countries “are still trying to concoct schemes on how to transport in and absorb masses of immigrants, instead of jointly taking practical steps to finally stop the flow”, he said. In Brussels people were still claiming that immigration was a good thing. Meanwhile we saw evidence day after day that immigration was a bad thing. This situation was not win-win but lose-lose.
“We feel that the very existence of Europe is at stake,” Orbán said. In Brussels, however, all the wrong messages were being sent, with invitations going out to migrants instead of telling them firmly and honestly that what they would find here is not at all what they expect.
He said it has been ascertained that the terrorists are using mass migration deliberately and systematically to mix in among the masses of people who are leaving their homes in the hope of a better life. All the leaders of Europe had known about the threat, with the Greeks warning Europe a long time ago that the arrival of jihadists could not be ruled out.
Orbán further pointed out that the migrants are coming from regions where European states are conducting military operations.
“We do not think that everyone coming from that direction is a terrorist. But we do not know, and no one can say, how many terrorists have already arrived among the masses of migrants. We do not know how many of them are already here, and how many of them are arriving from day to day.”
Orbán noted that mass migration poses three grave threats, which is why it must be stopped. He said it represents an increased threat of terrorism, and today this is not a mere threat of terror but “the fact and reality of terror”.
Mass migration also increased the threat of crime, even if it was not politically correct to speak about this; what was more, “in the Western world this fact is publicly denied – but it is a fact for all that. In those places in Europe with high numbers of immigrants, crime has increased significantly and public security has deteriorated. There is more theft, robbery, physical assault, grievous bodily harm, rape and murder”.
He said the third threat from the mass relocation of people from other continents and cultures is to our culture, our way of life, our customs and our traditions. “Now those who have lived in the delusion of multi-culturalism – and who have sought to force this delusion on us – can see where all this is leading.”
Orbán repeatedly criticised the mandatory resettlement quotas, which in his view are “not Europe”. They contradicted the spirit of Europe and were pointless because they would not resolve the crisis but aggravate it, being an invitation for migrants. He pointed out that the rapidly escalating pressure will cause European countries to reinstate their borders within the EU, which in time could mean the end of the Schengen system.
The prime minister described the quotas as illegitimate because European leaders have no jurisdiction to make decisions on such issues. “I propose that we […] continue to insist that we ourselves should decide whom we want to let in and whom we want to live together with,” he told the House.
“In the light of the terrorist attacks, Brussels can no longer question Member States’ right to defend themselves, given that mandatory resettlement quotas are dangerous, because they would spread terrorism across Europe.”
Orbán said the cabinet is absolutely opposed to “forced resettlement” and cross-border migrant returns. “As long as this government has breath in its body there will be no quotas and there will be no cross-border migrant returns from other countries.”
He urged a new European policy, suggesting that we “forget about political correctness” and “reconsider our European policy on the basis of four self-evident commandments”: we must protect the external borders of the EU, we must protect our culture, we must protect our economic interests and we must give the people the right to have a say in European decisions.
Responding to Orbán’s statements, the ruling Fidesz party said that “the crisis which the European Union has caused with its migration policies that eventually led to terrorism cannot be resolved by wishy-washiness”. Group leader Lajos Kósa said EU leaders, including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, are in part responsible for the attacks.
Kósa said Juncker is incapable of enforcing the bloc’s laws. “If the EU’s leaders are incapable of observing the law or even instructing Member States to observe them, then they should resign,” he said.
The co-ruling Christian Democrats called on Orbán to “keep doing what he is doing and protect Hungary”. Lawmaker Imre Vejkey said that apart from genuine refugees, economic migrants, criminals, soldiers and terrorists are also entering the European Union as part of the migration wave.
Gábor Vona, head of the radical nationalist Jobbik party, said both the migrant quota system and the relocation scheme need to be stopped if Hungary is to protect itself from terrorism. Signature drives like the ones that ruling Fidesz is pursuing “are a thing of the past”, Vona said.
Only a binding referendum will get Hungary’s message across to Brussels, he added. Vona proposed a debate on migration and terrorism, to which he said the starting statements could be “Migrants are not terrorists” and “Terrorists, however, are migrants”.
The opposition Socialists said Hungary must give a “strong, proportionate and effective” response to the Paris attacks. Group leader József Tóbiás said the “sensible majority” in Europe knows that terrorists such as the ones who carried out Friday’s attacks “cannot be stopped with any kind of fence”.
He said that anyone looking to make political gains out of the attacks “serve the interests of the terrorists”. Tobias said he was “shocked” by the prime minister’s remarks, which were aimed at creating tension.
Green opposition LMP said the European Union and Europe as a whole need to be protected through joint efforts. Group leader András Schiffer said Europe has failed to protect itself. “If Europe fails to co-operate in countering terrorism, if European intelligence services fail to share information among themselves, then Hungary too will be left defenceless,” he said.
The LMP sympathised with France but the terrorist attacks were part of a global crisis whose victims were not only EU Member States but also the migrants’ countries of origin.
Terror threat indirect: TEK head
Hungary does not face any direct terrorist threat, János Hajdú, the head of the counter-terrorism centre (TEK), told public news channel M1 on Sunday. “TEK has not uncovered any information that would lead it to believe that the Hungarian people are under direct threat from possible terror plots,” Hajdú said, adding, however, that the country is under the same indirect threat as the rest of Europe. Asked whether TEK had any information about the terrorist whose passport was found last Friday night and who is suspected of having reached France by way of Hungary, he said the matter was a political one because other countries are also involved. Hajdú said that when registering refugees, due to capacity limits, authorities do not record all of their personal details. He noted that TEK and other European intelligence agencies had warned months ago that there was a direct link between migration and terrorism, which he said only the Hungarian government took seriously, as evidenced by the construction of the border fence.
Együtt: Orbán linking migration, terrorism ‘disgraceful’
It is “unacceptable and disgraceful” that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán should make a connection in any way between the challenges of immigration and the Paris attacks, the opposition Együtt party said on Monday. Viktor Szigetvári, the party’s leader, said Orbán had a chance to correct his previous anti-immigrant policies in order to support and not to sabotage joint European solutions. Szigetvári said the two MPs for Együtt who sit as independents will vote against the proposal to oppose the EU quota system. A stronger Europe is only possible if, in addition to mandatory quotas, a new policy on deportations and new Dublin rules are adopted, he said. Meanwhile asylum seekers should be treated as humans. Együtt called on the government to withdraw the refugee laws enacted in September because they “contravene international laws in every way”. Szigetvári said fence-building was the wrong way to go, while the party continues to support the fight against terrorism and the IS.
Security of people ‘top priority’
In an interview given to public service television news channel M1 on Monday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said the security of the Hungarian people is the government’s top priority. “This is the path it has pursued” to date and there is no need to change its way of thinking, he said. Hungary had done everything conceivably possible in the interest of protecting the country and its own citizens, as well as in the interest of protecting Europe and European citizens. When possible it had done even more, sending units of police and border guards to territories outside Hungary. Regarding the level of terrorism threat to the country, Orbán pointed out that “we do not need any further information because real life has surpassed all our expectations”.