In order to protect their lives, refugees fleeing civil wars should be allowed into Europe, but not so the economic refugees, said Manfred Weber, faction leader of the European People’s Party at a Budapest conference on the refugee crisis jointly organized by the Foundation for Civic Hungary, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

Weber said anyone following a policy based on values cannot be against helping the refugees falling in the first category, adding that the refugee issue is not just a national problem, thus all states must contribute towards a solution.

He said the European People’s Party advocates a differentiated approach, unlike the far-right populists who would like to deal in the same way with both types of refugees. He said the EPP’s stance was also different from that of the European leftists, who are in favour of mass migration. Weber said siphoning off the best and brightest would benefit neither Africa, nor Europe.

The Minister of Human Capacities Zoltán Balog said at the conference that we should not abandon those in need, but the problem has a level of complexity never before seen, and thus it might not be easy to arrive at a solution.

He said Hungary faces problems similar to those of Germany or France, with the difference that Hungary must integrate a group that has been in the country for centuries. He also said that Europe is in need of workers with lower qualifications, but said that this need could also be covered by training and integrating the six to eight million Roma already living in Europe.

József Szájer (MEP, Fidesz) said that a full debate on the issue of migrants should take place without prejudice regarding the other side’s position and that a satisfactory solution can be reached even if there isn’t a full consensus on all points.

He noted the words of Hungary’s first Christian ruler, King Stephen who said that Hungary is a “welcoming country”. He said the remorse and moral obligations of the former colonial powers should be taken into account, but with the proviso that Hungarian society went through an entirely different social development, and thus its point of view is also different.

Michael Gahler (CDU, EPP), Vice-President of the EU’s Committee on Foreign Affairs said that while capacities should be increased to save the refugees lost at sea, the multi-billion dollar human trafficking rings should be eliminated through military and covert means.

Gergely Gulyás (Fidesz), Deputy Speaker of the Hungarian Parliament spoke of the long-standing Hungarian-German ties and noted that in 1989-90, during the regime change in Hungary, the country’s new institutional system was largely modelled on the German example and that these ties remain as strong as ever, as shown by this conference organized by two German foundations.