July 5, 2018 / 12:33 PM / a month ago

Germany's Merkel, Hungary's Orban clash over how to be humane

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel clashed with her Hungarian counterpart over the responsibilities Europe had towards refugees seeking sanctuary on the continent in a tense press conference marked by unusually passionate disagreements.

“We must never forget this is about people; it’s about people who come to us and that has something to do with Europe’s basic message: humanity,” she said at a joint news conference after receiving Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Berlin.

“I believe the soul of Europe is humanity and if we want to retain this soul and play a role in Europe with these values then Europe can’t simply decouple from the need and suffering.”

But Orban, who since 2015 has positioned himself as Merkel’s adversary in migration policy, said Europe best showed humanity by removing incentives for refugees to come to the continent.

“If the help offered by Europe to migrants leads people in Africa and Asia to conclude that they can come, then they will come,” he said. “We have to be humane without creating a pull-factor, and the only way we know of doing that is closing the borders and taking help (to those countries), and not let in people who bring trouble.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban shake hands after addressing the media in Berlin, Germany, July 5, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Joseph Nasr

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