Hungary's tough-talking Prime Minister Viktor Orban has made it clear that incoming refugees from conflict-torn nations are considered as "Muslims invaders" by his administration and not merely as asylum-seekers. The conservative politician, known for his anti-immigration stance, has yet again gone up against other European states and defended his policy to refuse to accept Hungary's quota of refugees.
Speaking to the German daily Bild, the combative premier said, "We don't see these people as Muslim refugees. We see them as Muslim invaders."
He said those who flee Syria, which has been reeling under a seven-year-long bloody war, to seek better living in European countries should be regarded as "economic migrants" and not as war refugees.
To reach Hungary, refugees have to pass through four different countries – the common route for those who seek asylum is usually via Turkey, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia. Orban said that this proves the refugees do not want to settle in these countries even though they are economically stable because they are not as rich as some of the other EU member states.
"We believe that a large number of Muslims inevitably lead to parallel societies because Christian and Muslim societies will never unite," Orban said. "Multiculturalism is only an illusion."
He continued, "I can only speak for the Hungarian people, and they don't want any migration. In my understanding, it's not possible for the people to have a will on a fundamental issue and for the government not to comply with it."
Orban has refused to take in Hungary's quota of 1,300 refugees as part of the EU resettlement programme as Budapest goes up against Brussels.
When the interviewer asked why the European Union should shoulder the burden of hundreds of thousands of refugees but not Hungary, Orban bluntly responded by saying, "The difference is, you wanted the migrants, and we didn't."
His remarks come at a time when polls are around the corner in Hungary, with elections set to take place in March. Orban articulating his views at this time is being considered by many as a move to reach out to the customary vote base of the far-right.