WARSAW, Poland — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Monday that his country's strong opposition to allowing migrants into Europe doesn't mean that Hungarians have hearts of stone.
On a visit to Warsaw, Orban and his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki, defended their refusal to accept refugees, a stance that has put them in conflict with the European Union.
Both leaders said their nations are aiding people in Africa and the Middle East, in or closer to their native lands, insisting this was a better way to address migration.
"We also have hearts, we do not have stones instead of hearts. We are a Christian people. We know what commitments are, what it means to help. But we cannot help anyone if we destroy our country in the meantime," Orban said during a news conference, according to a translation of his remarks in Hungarian.
Both men cast the EU attempts to redistribute migrants across the member states as violations of their national sovereignty.
"Here in Poland, it's we who decide who will come to Poland and who will not," Morawiecki said.
Orban's visit to Warsaw, following his re-election in April to a third consecutive term, comes as Poland and Hungary are seeking a united front against another EU plan — linking EU funding to rule of law.
Earlier this month, the European Commission announced the plan to tie funding in the 2021-27 period to prevent what it sees as an erosion of the independence of the judicial branch in both ex-communist nations.
Both Warsaw and Budapest have strongly denounced the EU plan as unfair and vowed to fight it. They argue that the billions the EU sends to developing countries like theirs eventually also benefits older EU members by creating stable markets for their goods.
"They make money on us. They do not give us this money," Orban said.
Morawiecki said of Poland and Hungary that "our positions are very close and one can say that we are getting closer."