by Oliver Lane
Viktor Orban is meeting Angela Merkel’s close political allies at a
conference in a magnificent medieval Bavarian castle today, as Germany
eats its own words on Oraban’s hard-line stance on Europe’s borders.
The Hungarian Prime Minister was met with protests when he arrived in
southern Germany this morning, with activists carrying placards
opposing his policy of fence building along the very borders of the
European Union (EU), yet the welcome from the Christian Social Union
(CSU) was much warmer. The sister party to Angela Merkel’s Christian
Democrats which operates elsewhere in Germany, the Bavaria-only CSU
rules the German state at the front line of the migration crisis – it
forms the entirety of Germany’s border with Austria.
Speaking at the joint press conference, Orban said he understood that
Germany wanted to take in refugees, but Hungary didn’t and Germany
should refrain from indulging in what he called “moral imperialism” –
forcing the other nations of Europe to do the same. He said Hungary
didn’t want mass immigration, and that they didn’t want their nation to
see the changes brought about in other European states by open borders.
Seehofer praised Orban and said he had “earned support and not
criticism” from Bavaria, remarking that it was only Hungary that could
secure Germany’s southern border because of Europe’s freedom of movement
policy. The pair also outlined their list of proposals to deal with the
migration crisis, which they plan to present to European leaders at
today’s EU summit in Brussels.
One suggestion is for Greece, which has comprehensively failed to
secure its borders, to hand over their border-control responsibilities
to other more capable nations – a role for which Hungary has volunteered
itself, reports N-TV.de. Another suggestion is to reset
Europe’s relationship with Putin’s Russia, which is in a unique position
to influence events in Syria. Orban also called for a clear separation
of refugees and economic migrants to be made, with individuals being
classified before they cross the border into Europe.
CSU leader and Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer is a close ally
to Chancellor Merkel and led today’s talks, and was already on the
defensive before Orban arrived. The invitation had triggered barbed
criticism from the left, with opposition party leaders calling it
“disgusting”, and accusing the PM of making racism a top priority for
the Bavarian government. Seehofer hit back, remarking that without
Hungary, Europe would be unable to secure its borders, reports the Bayerischer Rundfunk.
He had previously said “we should not demonise Orban. Not everything
he says is right, but it would be wrong to lump prejudices upon him”.
Seerhofer’s welcoming follows praise by other CSU politicians given to Orban, who until recently was openly mocked by Merkel
for his uniquely Hungarian interpretation of Western democracy.
Parlimentary foreign affairs committee member Hans-Peter Uhl has spoken
out in Orban’s defence, remarking: “Orban was right from the beginning
to bring the EU’s external border with Serbia under control. For this, a
fence is suitable.
“It is increasingly clear that this anarchy must be stopped at the
borders. Immigration to Germany and Europe must be checked again. We
need the return of the law”, reports Der Spiegel.
His position is reinforced by the comments of senior Federal
Constitutional Court judge Udo Di Fabio who said that protecting borders
didn’t make a nation any less democratic, but could actually undermine
freedom. Using the examples of the United States border fence with
Mexico he said “no one would accuse the United States that they were not
a democratic state, and an open society” despite their controlling
immigration from their southern neighbour.
He also offered a vision of where zero border control can lead to:
“If the state has no influence on its population structures, the country
would indeed be very open, but no longer a state. When a government
loses control of its territory, as we saw in the Ukraine, then [the rule
of law fluctuates]”.