Addressing the Budapest Migration Conference organised by the Mathias Corvinus Collegium, Orban said, “We need to act now”. If European policymakers fail to make decisions immediately, then it will be impossible to stop later what has already been put into motion.
The Hungarian leader cited UN data indicating that the population of Africa will rise by half a billion people in 13 years and the gap between the quality of life in Africa and Europe will widen. “Migration pressure from Africa will surely grow,” he said.
Orban said Africans should be helped in their home countries rather than in Europe. The approach to migration by the eastern and western parts of Europe must be reconciled now because later this would become impossible to achieve, he said.
Former Czech president Vaclav Klaus said mass migration was the greatest challenge of the current era. It is important to differentiate between individual migration and mass migration, he said. However, when the European “political elite” talks about mass migration, their arguments for supporting should only be applied to individual migration, he said.
Countries have a relatively high ability to receive individual migrants but mass migration endangers social cohesion and results in cultural, social and political conflict, he explained. European political leaders pretend not to see this, he warned.
David Coleman, a professor of demography at the University of Oxford, anticipated a new migration wave from Africa tied to a population explosion there in parallel with demographic decline in Europe.
Coleman said mass migration was not a solution and he complained about the neglect of Europe’s defence. He said migration was not the right solution to an aging society because it would result in uncontrollable population growth and changes in ethnic proportions.
Jaime Mayor Oreja, Spain’s former interior minister and a former vice-president of the EPP, said that alongside the crisis of migration was a deeper one in which the continent’s soul, values and personality had been lost among the EU’s “countless institutions”.
A weakening of Europe’s order may strengthen the conditions of violence in the longer run, he said, adding that EU member states, rather than being threatened by political extremism, were vulnerable to an “extreme lack of order”. Without renewal, Europe won’t handle migration effectively, he said. This is why it must come to understand where it has made a mistake as well as when and why it lost its Christian values, he added.
Alexander Downer, Australia’s former foreign minister, slammed Europe’s migration policy as “disastrous” and “appalling”. He said the false assessment of the situation undermined political security as most voters shunned those who believe that migration cannot be handled in a globalised world and therefore should not be stopped.
Downer dismissed the policy of open borders, saying societies should not be transformed through migration. New arrivals should adapt to the local communities, he added.
George Borjas, professor of economics and social policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, said migration should not be interpreted simply as an international movement of labour or as a commercial process devoid of cultural or civilisational ramifications. Referring to experiences in the US, he said the benefits of migrant work is not necessarily significant compared with spending on migration.
Nicholas Sarkozy, the former French president, described Hungary as the “country of my father”, a brave nation with a great history, “a thoroughly European country thanks to its values, culture and history, and also a democratic country”.
Referring to ruling Fidesz’s election victory in 2010, 2014 and 2018, he said “if somebody wins the election three times in a row in an unstable world, they deserve respect”.
Orban in an interview on Sunday noted that the ruling coalition in The Netherlands had lost its majority in the upper house and the party of Frans Timmermans had thereby suffered a defeat. While Timmermans, the lead candidate of the Party of European Socialists (PES) for President of the European Commission, is visiting Budapest and other European cities “to lecture us about democracy, his party has just been sent away with a flea in their ear by the people at home”.
Orban added: “The likes of Timmermans, who are chased away by voters at home, must not be given positions in Brussels because this weakens EU cooperation.”