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Orban calls EU migrant plan 'idiotic'

May 20, 2015

Hungarian PM Viktor Orban has called a proposed migrant quota plan to distribute refugees among EU member states 'absurd.' He also said the debate on the death penalty in Hungary was a matter of 'freedom of thought.'

Ungarn Viktor Orban erwägt Einführung der Todesstrafe
Image: picture alliance/dpa/S. Koszticsak

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban lashed out on Tuesday against EU proposals for migrant quotas, and defended his country's right to debate the reintroduction of the death penalty.

Speaking before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Orban was blunt about a proposed quota plan for migrants in the EU.

"The proposal on the table from the European Commission…is absurd, bordering on insanity," Orban told lawmakers. "Quotas are only going to bring more people to Europe. It is an incentive for people traffickers and will simply tell people: yes, try to cross the Mediterranean at all costs."

The EU announced plans last week to distribute asylum seekers and migrants more fairly among its member states and take in 20,000 more refugees following the deaths of thousands of people trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean.

"Member states have to protect their own borders. I think it's insane to propose letting in all immigrants to Europe," Orban said.

Doubling down on death penalty

Regarding the death penalty, Orban defended his country's recent debate on reintroducing capital punishment.

"As far as capital punishment is concerned, I don't want to put my head in the sand," Orban said. "This is not about the death penalty… This is about freedom of expression and freedom of thought," he added.

Orban's stance drew a sharp rebuke from Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the European Parliament.

"It is a European issue. It's not an issue of member states, it's an issue of the whole European Union," he said.

EU Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans said Hungary runs the risk of sanctions if it reintroduces the death penalty. He also defended the EU migrant proposal.

"Don't make a caricature of the plans of this Commission, because we're on the same page," Timmermans said regarding the EU migrant quota plan.

bw/cmk (Reuters, AFP, dpa)