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European Conservatives Face Down Merkel

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and E.U. Council President Donald Tusk confronted Chancellor Angela Merkel over how to deal with the refugee crises at a meeting with European conservatives on Thursday ahead of a key migration conference in Brussels over the weekend.
  • John Blau
Soliders have been keeping a close eye on refugees at the Croatia-Solvenia border, as tension grow in the region. Quelle: AFP
Tanks patrol refugees

Soliders have been keeping a close eye on refugees at the Croatia-Solvenia border, as tension grow in the region.

(Foto: AFP)

Viktor Orbán and Donald Tusk, outspoken critics of Angela Merkel’s open-door refugee policy, faced down the German chancellor at a gathering of European center-right parties in Madrid on Thursday, using the most explosive comments yet to rally their conservative allies behind a tougher response to Europe’s refugee crisis.

The clash underscored the deep differences in the European Union over handling the refugee crisis, and came ahead of a key meeting on Sunday between Germany, Austria and leaders of Balkan countries.

“This is an uncontrolled and unregulated process,” Mr. Orbán told the party congress of the European People’s Party,  the grouping of European center-right parties, adding that “human dignity and security are basic rights, but neither the German nor the Hungarian way of life is a basic right of all people on the Earth.”

The blunt language of Mr. Tusk, the former Polish prime minister who now chairs summits of E.U. national leaders, offered a glimpse of what observers say is an increasingly testy debate behind the scenes between those like the Polish politician and Mr. Orbán who stress the need to quickly tighten Europe’s borders and others including Ms. Merkel, Europe’s most influential leader, who push for states to show solidarity and share responsibilities for refugees among them.

“We can no longer allow solidarity to be equivalent to naivety, openness to be equivalent to helplessness, freedom to be equivalent to chaos,” Mr. Tusk said in a speech. “And by that, I am of course referring to the situation on our borders.”

Emphasizing humanitarian concerns Ms. Merkel spoke of a rich Europe that had the duty to help refugees in camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon but was quick to add: “Of course, we have to protect our borders.”

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