Hungary, Poland demand bigger say in EU, reject its migration policy
* Orban hosts new Polish PM Morawiecki in Budapest
* Talks reinforce Poland-Hungary alliance in EU
* Two leaders demand bigger say in EU's future
* Orban says central Europe is a rising force in Europe
(Adds Hungary's Orban comments in Polish TV interview,
By Marcin Goclowski and Krisztina Than
BUDAPEST, Jan 3 (Reuters) - The European Union's migration
policy has failed, Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on
Wednesday, as he and his Polish counterpart demanded a bigger
say in the bloc's future.
Orban and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki lead
conservative governments under fire from Brussels over their
refusal to take in migrants under a quota system and over their
efforts to tighten state control of their courts and media.
"In terms of migration and quotas that were to be imposed on
(EU) member countries we strongly reject such an approach as it
infringes on sovereign decisions of member states," Morawiecki
told a joint news conference after talks with Orban in Budapest.
Echoing that line, Orban said: "The EU's migration policy...
"We want to have a strong say, as these countries (in
Central Europe) have a vision about the future of Europe," added
the Hungarian leader, who is expected to win a further four
years in power in an election due in April.
Orban led criticism in ex-communist central and eastern
Europe of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision in 2015 to
open Germany's doors to more than one million, mostly Muslim
migrants and refugees fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and
"At times we feel as if someone was shooting us in the back
for defending the interests of the entire Europe," Orban told
Poland's public broadcaster TVP of Hungary's efforts, which
included a barbed-wire fence on its southern border, to stop the
flow of migrants through its territory towards western Europe.
Orban, addressing talks in Brussels over the EU's next
seven-year budget that starts in 2021, said governments in
central Europe had the economic might to negotiate effectively.
The ex-communist central European nations are all net
recipients of EU funds, with Poland - the region's biggest
economy - benefiting most. Wealthier western EU states such as
Germany want to keep a firm lid on spending, especially with the
planned departure of net donor Britain from the bloc in 2019.
Poland could also see the money it receives dwindle if other
EU governments agree to proposals set out by Berlin to freeze
access to EU funds for countries that fail to meet EU rule of
Orban said trade between countries in central Europe and
Germany was bigger than between Germany and France and therefore
the region should "look to the future with optimism".
"We are not knocking on doors, we aren't begging ... we
represent an economic force," he said in the TVP interview.
Morawiecki, a former finance minister who only became prime
minister last month, said central European countries would
present a common front in the talks.
Morawiecki and Orban appeared to have struck up a good
personal relationship, reinforcing their countries' diplomatic
rapprochement within the EU.
When the EU's executive Commission launched an unprecedented
legal action against Warsaw in December in an attempt to force
it to reverse judicial reforms that Brussels says undermine
democracy, Orban signaled he would use Hungary's right of veto
to prevent any punitive sanctions against Poland.
Orban cited Austria's recent election - which resulted in a
far-right party joining the conservatives in a new coalition -
- as proof that concerns about immigration were not limited to
the ex-communist east.
"(Democracy was) reinstalled as Austrians who do not want
immigration elected a government which also opposes immigration.
This will be the same everywhere in Europe, I believe this is
only a matter of time," said Orban.
Both Orban's Fidesz and the ruling Law and Justice party
(PiS) in Poland are riding high in national opinion polls,
thanks to their strong economic record, their tough anti-migrant
policies and their defiance of EU institutions.
Critics say reforms introduced by Fidesz in Hungary and by
PiS in Poland undermine democracy and the rule of law, charges
rejected by Budapest and Warsaw.
(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski and Krisztina Than; additional
reporting by Justyna Pawlak; editing by Gareth Jones and Grant
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