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French Attacks Prompt East Europe Calls for Curbs on Immigration

Monday, 12 Jan 2015 11:48 AM

(For more news on the Paris attacks, see EXT3.)

(Bloomberg) -- Hungary’s prime minister and the Czech president demanded a tougher stance on immigrants to the European Union as fallout from the terrorist attacks in France last week spread to former communist countries.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the EU must limit immigration to people seeking political asylum. Czech President Milos Zeman said the foreign incomers and their descendants who can’t adapt and follow local norms should “return home,” according to an interview published in Denik newspaper Jan 10.

“Immigration is a bad thing,” Orban said yesterday on Hungarian public television after attending a march in Paris to mark the killings in France. “We shouldn’t view it as if it had any use because it only brings problems and peril to Europeans and so it must be stopped.”

Orban was among dozens of leaders who joined a rally in Paris yesterday to mark the worst terror attack in France in more than half a century. Three distinct yet connected attacks in the French capital, including in the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher grocery, claimed 17 victims last week. The killers were all French Muslims, born in France.

Orban and Zeman have courted controversy before. Orban’s government has attracted criticism from the EU and the U.S. for curbing press freedoms and not doing enough to address what some see as rising hostility against the Roma and Jewish minorities in Hungary. Zeman, who’s refused to condemn human rights abuses in Russia and China, last year prompted protests from Muslim organizations when he linked Islam to a deadly terrorist attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels.

Asylum Loophole

The EU needs to overhaul its immigration policy while still granting asylum to those whose lives are in danger for political reasons, Orban said.

“We don’t want to see a significant minority with different cultural characteristics and background among us,” Orban said. “We want to keep Hungary as is.”

Descendants of immigrants who can’t identify with European norms should “return home,” Zeman said, adding that “killing journalists is definitely not following the rules.”

“These people should live in their own countries, practice their religion, and shouldn’t try to disturb normal life in countries that have a different culture,” Zeman said.

France, which has the largest proportion of Muslims in Europe, is at “war against terrorists, Jihadists, Islamic fundamentalism, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said. At least one of the killers may have have received training from Islamist groups in Yemen, police said.

While Hungary has attracted fewer economic migrants, its borders with Serbia and Ukraine are used as an entry point to the EU’s Schengen visa-free zone by many trying to reach western Europe.

The EU plans to tighten borders and improve the exchange of intelligence within the bloc to combat the threat of Islamist terrorism, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said after EU interior ministers met in Paris yesterday.

--With assistance from Lenka Ponikelska in Prague.

To contact the reporter on this story: Zoltan Simon in Budapest at zsimon@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net Paul Abelsky, Andras Gergely

© Copyright 2017 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

   
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Monday, 12 Jan 2015 11:48 AM
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