President of the European Council Donald Tusk (right) and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (left) held a press conference Thursday following a meeting about Hungary’s handling of the refugee crisis. Tusk met with Orbán at the latter’s request.
The press conference was very short and failed to reveal any specifics regarding possible solutions for Europe’s dilemma.
Tusk spoke for about five minutes on the need to show solidarity with both the refugees and those EU Member States that have been shouldering much of the burden related to the influx of refugees.
“Not everyone is a fan of the controversial solutions proposed by Prime Minister Orbán and I can understand why,” Tusk said. “However, one thing is clear, Prime Minister Orbán took action to strengthen the protection of the EU borders.”
He said the European Union needs to work on showing solidarity and containing the influx of refugees, but emphasized the point that the “two approaches of solidarity and containment must not be mutually exclusive”.
Tusk surprised everyone when he finished his statement with a response to Orbán’s recent opinion article published in the German conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. (In the opinion piece, Orbán promoted his xenophobic rhetoric by asserting that the influx of refugees into Europe poses a serious threat to European Christianity-ed.).
“And finally, let me make a personal comment with reference to Prime Minister Orbán’s article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,” Tusk said. “I want to underline that for me, Christianity in public and social life means a duty to our brothers in need. Referring to Christianity in a public debate on migration must mean in the first place a readiness to show solidarity and sacrifice. For a Christian, it shouldn’t matter what race, religion and nationality the person in need represents. Thank you very much.”
Orbán was obviously caught off guard by Tusk’s comments but proceeded with a short statement at the press conference.
“Let me postpone a discussion of the modern meaning of Christianity to another press conference,” he said in response. “Thank you very much.”