Trump Admirer Orban Says ‘Ethnic Homogeneity’ Crucial for Hungary’s Economy

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is seen during his annual 'State of Hungary' speech in the Varkert Bazar (Castle Gardens Bazaar), at the foot of Castle Hill in Budapest, Hungary, 10 February 2017. The inscription on the podium reads: 'Hungary is getting stronger'. Photo: EPA

  • Hungary’s leader deems ‘preserving ethnic homogeneity’ will “enhance the value” of the “homeland”
  • He declares himself against guest workers despite labor shortage in Hungary
  • Orban’s Cabinet just announced it would build a second fence on its border with Serbia to keep out Middle Eastern migrants

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has declared “ethnic homogeneity” to be crucial for Hungary’s economic success.

Orban, who is a known admirer of US President Donald Trump as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been a vocal opponent of the acceptance of Muslim refugees from the Middle East in the European Union of which Hungary has been a member since 2004.

The leader of the rightist Fidesz Party, who has served as Hungary’s Prime Minister since 2010, and from 1998 to 2002 before that, has been widely criticized for seeking to restrict democratic freedoms in the country.

‘Ethnic Homogeneity’ vs. Competitiveness

Speaking before the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Budapest on Tuesday, Orban declared that improving competitiveness was not the only way to bolster economic growth and “enhance the value” of the “homeland”.

“How to do this? First, by preserving ethnic homogeneity. One can say such things now, which you would have been executed for during the past few years, as life has proven that too much mixing causes trouble,” the Hungarian Prime Minister stated as cited by EurActiv.

In his words, Hungary’s government “cannot risk changing the fundamental ethnic character of the country”.

“That would not enhance the value of the country but downgrade it instead, and toss it into chaos,” he declared.

“The problem of parallel societies is undesirable,“ Orban stated arguing in favor of limited ethnic diversity, and referring to concerns that failure to integrate foreign migrants could generate higher crime and terrorism threats.

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

He thus made it clear that even though Hungary faces a shortage of laborers, he was against sweeping guest worker programs, and would support them on short-term, ad hoc basis.

At present, Hungary boasts a record low unemployment rate compared with other European Union member states of just 4%. However, the Central European country’s population has been declining for decades as a result of low birth rate and emigration.

In 2011, Hungary’s population dropped below 10 million for the first time since 1960.

Convicts supervised by wardens are seen building the second fence line behind the first protective fence on the border between Hungary and Serbia near Kelebia, Hungary, 01 March 2017. The Hungarian government decided to construct a second fence along the border with Serbia to prevent migrants from entering Hungary illegally. Photo: EPA

‘One Fence Is Not Enough’

Orban’s “ethnic homogeneity” comments came a day after his government announced it was going to build a second fence on its border with Serbia in order to keep away Middle Eastern immigrants.

Orban himself has been a long-standing critic of a policy of the European Commission, the EU executive, providing for resettling all over Europe of migrants from Syria and other countries all over the wider Middle East.

Hungary was part of the main land migration route from Turkey to Germany which in 2015 saw about 1 million primarily Arab and Afghan migrants make it to the heart of the EU.

A Hungarian government spokesman confirmed on Monday that Hungary was building an additional fence along its southern border with Serbia, a plan that Orban first voiced in September 2016 arguing that “one fence is not enough”.

In the past, the Hungarian Prime Minister has argued that Muslim immigrants “do not belong” in “Christian Europe”.

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