European Council
Council of the European Union

Remarks by President Donald Tusk before his meeting with Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán

European Council
  • 03/09/2015
  • Statements and remarks
  • Home Affairs
  • Institutional affairs
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Preben Aamann
European Council President Spokesperson
+32 22815150
+32 476850543

Good morning. Prime Minister Orbán has requested to see me and other leaders of the European institutions to discuss the situation in Hungary as a matter of urgency. Not everyone is a fan of the controversial solutions proposed by Prime Minister Orbán and I can understand why. However, one thing is clear, Prime Minister Orbán took action to strengthen the protection of the EU borders.

But in light of the huge and increasing number of refugees, European countries need to do more. Everyone realises that EU countries will not change their migratory policies overnight. But everyone should also realise that today our attitude to refugees is in fact an expression of European solidarity inside of Europe. The countries that are not directly affected by this crisis and have experienced solidarity from the EU in the past should show it to those in need. Today it is truly a paradox that the biggest countries in Europe, like Germany and Italy, need our solidarity. So does Hungary.

At the same time we should seriously address the containment of the wave of migration by strengthening the borders and getting the keys to our Europe back from the hands of smugglers and murderers. The two approaches of solidarity and containment must not be mutually exclusive. It would be unforgivable if Europe split into advocates of containment symbolised by the Hungarian fence and advocates of full openness voiced by some politicians as the policy of open doors and windows.

Now are times of a major test for all EU members. Therefore I call on all EU leaders to re-double their efforts, when it comes to solidarity with the members who face this unprecedented migratory wave. Accepting more refugees is not the only but an important gesture of real solidarity. Fair distribution of at least 100.000 refugees among the EU States is what we need today.

If leaders do not demonstrate good will, solidarity will become an empty slogan and will be replaced by political blackmail, divisions and a new blame game.

Reception centres where asylum requests are handled should be built closer to conflict areas outside Europe, where refugee camps already exist. These centres should be a way to get to the European Union for all asylum seekers. The EU should increase our assistance to the countries bordering with conflict areas in ensuring protection to those who are in danger. We are talking about Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and other partners in the region.

It will also demand an enormous effort of all institutions. Humanitarian efforts to contain migratory flows will require much greater engagement of Europe. It means a major increase in spending. When we talk about the new reception centres, better protection of borders or the economic development aid for countries outside the EU, much more money will be needed. Therefore leaders will need to decide on this as well when we meet in October.

Finally let me make a personal comment with reference to PM Orbán's article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . I want to underline that for me, Christianity in public and social life carries a duty to our brothers in need. Referring to Christianity in a public debate on migration must mean in the first place the readiness to show solidarity and sacrifice. For a Christian it shouldn't matter what race, religion and nationality the person in need represents. Thank you.