BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary's prime minister on Friday launched his party's campaign for the European Parliamentary elections in May by presenting a seven-point plan against immigration.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban called for migration to be controlled by national governments, not European Union bureaucrats and repeated his view that no country should be forced to accept immigrants against its will.
Orban also urged the EU to stop funding civic groups that support asylum-seekers and said "no one in Europe should suffer discrimination" because they are Christians.
"At stake is whether the EU will have pro-immigration or anti-immigration leaders," Orban told a gathering of Fidesz members and supporters. "We will decide whether to defend our Christian European culture or yield the terrain to multiculturalism."
Last month, the membership of Orban's Fidesz party in the largest bloc in the European Parliament, the center-right European People's Party, was suspended while Orban's policies are scrutinized by an EPP delegation. Some members of the alliance believe Orban has strayed too far from its Christian Democratic values.
In Orban's assessment, the People's Party is "turning left, in a liberal direction and ... toward a Europe of immigrants."
If that is the turn the EPP makes, "you can be sure we won't follow," Orban said.
Despite calls by EPP faction leader Manfred Weber for Orban to cease his attacks on the EU, the Hungarian leader lashed out again at EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who is also part of the EPP, saying he was "firmly responsible" for Britain's Brexit morass and "the migrant invasion."
"There is a bubble in Brussels, the virtual world of the privileged European elite, which has become detached from reality," Orban said, often interrupted by applause from the audience. "Hungarians ... want the European Union, but have had enough of how things are going in Brussels and they want change."
Orban built fences to stop the flow of migrants in late 2015 and his extreme anti-immigrant policies have won him admiration on Europe's far-right and last year helped him win his third straight four-year term in Hungary.
All EU nations will hold national votes for lawmakers for the European Parliament from May 23-26. Hungary's vote is May 26.