ANKARA (Reuters) - Europe should not respond to the inflow of immigrants from the Middle East and Africa with nationalism, because caring about human rights is part of the European identity, Europe’s Economic Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said on Friday.
Moscovici, who is attending talks of world financial leaders in Turkey -- a country that has already taken in more than 2 million refugees from war-torn neighbours -- was responding to the words of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who said on Thursday the influx of refugees into Europe threatened the continent’s Christian roots.
“Our answer must be in line with our history and our values, in line with what Europe is about,” Moscovici told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from the world’s top 20 economies.
“To be European means to care about humanity and to care about human rights. If you look at economics I do not see any contradiction. Some countries, like Germany have economic needs for migration,” he said.
“When the world and Europe face such a drama, the answer should never be nationalistic. Never to close borders, never to renounce our values. Never,” Moscovici said.
In an opinion piece for Germany’s Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung, Orban said the people of Europe were at odds with the majority of governments on the refugee crisis.
“Mr Orban spoke about the Christian identity of Europe. It is disputable that there is only a Christian identity of Europe. I never thought that. But even if you think that, in the Christian values or Judaeo-Christian values, being helpful to those who suffer is part of it,” Moscovici said.
“(German Chancellor) Angela Merkel’s attitude, behaviour in this crisis deserves high respect if not admiration,” he said of Germany’s openness to take in refugees.
Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Nick Tattersall