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Orban: 'Ethnic homogeneity' vital for economic success

March 1, 2017

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban has launched a fresh tirade against the EU's immigration policy. His government has announced it is building a second barrier along its border with Serbia to keep out migrants.

Ungarn Viktor Orban Premierminister
Image: Getty Images/S. Gallup

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban reiterated his misgivings about ethnic and religious diversity in a strongly-worded speech before Hungarian business leaders on Tuesday.

Speaking before the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Budapest, Orban said that "ethnic homogeneity" was key in fostering economic success and that "too much mixing causes trouble."

Hungary currently enjoys a record-low unemployment rate in the European Union of just four percent. However, it is facing an acute shortage of labor, with many employers complaining that they are struggling to fill positions. The Prime Minister, however, vocally spoke out against importing labor to solve the shortages. Boosting competitiveness, he said, was not the way to bolster economic growth and "enhance the value" of the "homeland."

Hungary's government "cannot risk changing the fundamental ethnic character of the country," he said. "That would not enhance the value of the country but downgrade it instead, and toss it into chaos."

Fencing off migrants

An admirer of US President Donald Trump, Orban has been a vehement critic of the EU's migrant quota policy, calling the wave of mainly Muslim migrants arriving in Europe from war-torn Middle Eastern countries a threat to the continent's cultural and religious heritage. 

The country has introduced strict refugee laws and, on Monday, the government announced it was building a second line of barbed-wire fencing along its border with Serbia to keep out migrants. Hungary was part of the main overland route for refugees travelling towards western Europe, although very few migrants intended on settling in the country.

Karte Grenzzaun zwischen Serbien und Ungarn Englisch

Monday's announcement spurred a chorus of outcry from rights groups and EU members, while the European Parliament has pledged to review the state of fundamental human rights and democracy in Hungary.

Not counting guest workers

Orban has also dismissed any recourse in the EU's guest worker programs, which allow foreign workers to temporarily reside and perform namely low or semi-skilled labor in countries experiencing workforce shortages. Despite Hungary's shortages, coupled with a declining birthrate, the Prime Minister pledged on Tuesday only to support such a program on an ad-hoc basis for short-term contracts.

"I would not like to see the country drift toward a situation where lower-skilled work would only be carried out by foreigners," he said. "We ourselves have to do the work required to keep our country going, from scrubbing toilets to nuclear science," he said.

dm/bw (AFP, dpa)