Europe must accept political refugees from North Africa, but economic migrants must be kept home; this would necessitate a new Marshall Plan of assistance to North African countries, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, pointed out in Palermo, on 4 May 2011, addressing the European People’s Party during the conference.
Mr Orbán called the crisis in Africa, “The most challenging question of the Hungarian Presidency.” He said that Hungary expresses solidarity with Italy and Malta, and “is making every effort to ease the burden on the two countries.”
“We have to make a clear distinction between political refugees and economic migrants, even if occasionally, it is difficult to distinguish between unbearable destitution and unbearable persecution,” Mr Orbán declared. “People who are subjected to political persecution must be accepted, not only because of themselves, but also due to our own system of values and interests. It is the cornerstone of European democracies, whether European citizens can believe that certain values are unquestionable. This is put to the test, when we are asked about our readiness to accept refugees,” the Hungarian Prime Minister said.
On the other hand, he was against the idea of accepting economic migrants. “My answer to the idea of accepting economic migrants, is a firm ‘no’,” Mr Orbán said. He added that demographic problems cannot be resolved by accepting migrants. “The days are numbered for a civilization, which cannot solve its demographic problems with its own resources.”
Reasoning against accepting economic migrants, the Hungarian Prime Minister said that the EU has its own demographic reserves, which make it unnecessary to receive economic migrants. This reserve is “the Balkan enclave, which should be let in” and which are surrounded by NATO and EU member states on every side; in addition to the foundering Roma population of millions. Speaking about the Roma, Mr Orbán stressed that this group consists of several million individuals who, “Have fallen from the labour market and must be brought back.” Mr Orbán declared, “This decision is far more reasonable than accepting foreign economic migrants”.
According to the Hungarian Prime Minister, “If Europe accepted North African migrants in the masses; it would miss the historic opportunity to enter into an alliance with North Africa.An alliance should not be founded on receiving or enticing, North Africans. We must keep them at home”, Mr Orbán reasoned. We have to give new Marshall Plan assistance to North Africa, he added.
Speaking about the relationship between the refugee in North Africa and the common border control system, the Prime Minister declared, “We are convinced that the pact between France and Italy cannot block further enlargement of the Schengen system.” He added, “Schengen is the European Union's value, it must be maintained and enforced”, but a mechanism has to be developed, which is capable of defending Member States if in danger.
Mr Orbán called Schengen an achievement, on the order of the Euro or the enlargement policy. He mentioned that the EU has reached a crossroads in these issues. He said that the direction of decisions on the strengthening of the Euro and the Eurozone must be followed. Both the Schengen area and the enlargement process must be consolidated, and we must not abandon them. “We must insist on every part of the Community acquis”, Europe cannot be strong without them, Viktor Orbán warned.
“We must face difficulties without fear; we must take up the battle with them and defeat them," the Hungarian Prime Minister said, concluding his speech.