“Demographic Crisis”: Central European minds hold out against migration

Heads of state and government from the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina took part in the fourth demographic summit in Budapest./Attila Kisbenedek / AFP

Heads of state and government from the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina took part in the fourth demographic summit in Budapest./Attila Kisbenedek / AFP

Political leaders from Central and Eastern Europe have signed a declaration against migration as Europe faces a “demographic crisis”.

The joint declaration by the close allies Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Serbia names migration more as a problem than as a solution to falling birth rates – and calls on the bloc to keep family policy under national jurisdiction.

It comes as Hungary and Poland face ongoing legal action by the European Union over anti-LGBT + policies. Governments also share a similar anti-migration stance, with barbed wire fences being built on the border with Poland to stop migrants trying to cross the border from Belarus. Hungary built a fence on its southern border in 2015.

The Conservative leaders met with speakers and academics on Thursday at the fourth Budapest Demography Summit. The group shared similar concerns that migration is changing demographics on the continent and now plans to increase their countries’ populations through birth rates rather than taking in people.

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Strategies were also shared that they hope will help keep nuclear families and Christian values ​​at the heart of government policies. One element commented by several heads of state and government was the granting of tax breaks to newlyweds and young families – something that Hungary says has resulted in more children being born.

Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban set the tone at the two-day event, declaring his country vaccinated against “woke up” thinking. He also defended Hungary’s anti-LGBT + law, which bans the promotion and display of homosexuality and sex reassignment for those under the age of 18. The latest legislation has been widely condemned and criticized for equating homosexuality with pedophilia.

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Orban reiterated that Budapest would not step back from the legislation following the recent challenges from Brussels. The law is seen as violating union values ​​and discriminating against people based on their orientation.

One of the keynote speakers on the first day of the summit was former US Vice President Mike Pence, who was visiting Hungary for the first time. He used his speech to congratulate Budapest and its neighbors for maintaining a firm stance on migration, saying that a government cannot support working-class families and immigrants.

He also spoke of traditional family values ​​which he believes are being pushed aside in many parts of the world.

“The good news is here in Hungary and elsewhere in the region, we are finding evidence that good governance and policies can reverse demographic decline. I think it is no coincidence that this family restoration in Hungary and Poland and in countries across the region, I think it happens here for a reason, “he told the audience.

Many of the politicians attending the summit face national elections within the next 12 to 18 months. The anti-immigrant stance is popular with Orban voters in Hungary, with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis fighting for similar values. The attitude towards migration and issues such as the rights of homosexuals is in stark contrast to many other EU countries.

Video editing: Andras Nagy

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