Point of view
We want to be a European nation, not a nationality within EuropePrime Minister of Hungary
Hungary’s right-wing leader says his country must stand up to Europe’s “Sovietisation” and defend its borders against mass immigration.
Viktor Orban was speaking at a commemoration of his country’s 1956 uprising against the communist government.
Deafening roars, whistles greet Viktor Orban as he takes the stage at 1956 commemoration event. pic.twitter.com/mBT0TAtAtT— Andrew Byrne (@aqbyrne) October 23, 2016
What did he say?
Orban is a critic of the European Union and an early opponent of the recent migration wave into the continent.
He said freedom in Europe depended on the nation state and Christian traditions.
“People who love their freedom must save Brussels from Sovietisation, from people who want to tell us who we should live with in our countries,” the prime minister said.
“We want to be a European nation, not a nationality within Europe.”
“As heirs to 1956, we cannot allow Europe to cut the roots that made it great and helped us survive the Soviet suppression. There is no free Europe without nation states and thousands of years of wisdom from Christianity.”
“We must close the border to stop the mass migration that flows from the south.”
POLITICO Europe (@POLITICOEurope) October 23, 2016
Polish President Andrzej Duda was guest of honour at the commemoration.
He assured Hungarians of support from Warsaw.
“You can count on Poland, we march together in the toughest moments,” Duda said.
“Two countries which were built on Christian foundations and are now free in the unified Europe.”
There were cheers from the several thousand-strong crowd.
Did anyone disagree?
A few hundred opposition protesters whistled loudly as Orban spoke.
Brawls broke out in the crowd between his supporters and opponents.
Opposition supporters gathered for their own rally nearby.
Former prime minister and the leader of the Democratic Coalition Ferenc Gyurcsány said:
“We want to create the opposite of the country which is Viktor Orban’s fantasy. We want a country where everybody feels at home, no matter what his taste, his faith is, no matter what his conviction is”.
Hungary and migration
Along with other ex-Communist countries in eastern Europe, Hungary opposes a policy that would require all EU states to take in some of the hundreds of thousands of mainly Muslim migrants seeking asylum in the bloc after arriving last year.
Orban has led resistance to the stance taken by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
She has said EU states have an obligation to share the burden of taking in refugees.
Last year, Hungary responded to the influx by sealing its southern borders with a razor-wire fence.
Thousands of soldiers and police were deployed.