Myanmar, Hungary see migration as 'greatest challenge'

Budapest (AFP) –


Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban both view migration as "one of the greatest challenges" currently facing their countries and Europe and South East Asia in general, the government in Budapest said on Wednesday.

In a rare trip to Europe, the Nobel Prize laureate -- once considered a democracy icon but whose reputation has been tarnished by her handling of the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar -- met the firebrand Hungarian leader, who has frequently clashed with the EU over immigration.

The talks between the two covered topics such as "illegal immigration and bilateral economic, educational and cultural relations", the Hungarian government said in a statement.

No official media briefing was held afterwards.

"The two leaders highlighted that one of the greatest challenges at present for both countries and their respective regions ?- South East Asia and Europe ?- is migration," the statement said.

"They noted that both regions have seen the emergence of the issue of co-existence with continuously growing Muslim populations."

Orban said that Hungary was in favour of trade cooperation between the EU and Myanmar.

"At the same time, however, he stressed that Hungary rejects attempts at the 'export of democracy' and the approach of bureaucrats in Brussels and elsewhere in the West, who seek to conflate unrelated issues such as economic cooperation and internal political questions," the statement added.

Fiercely anti-immigration, Orban has repeatedly clashed with Brussels over the issue and waves off criticism that he is undermining democracy in Hungary.

A former opposition politician in Myanmar, Suu Kyi spent nearly 15 years in house arrest under the former junta, but her reputation as a rights champion has been severely tarnished after she failed to speak up for the persecuted Rohingya minority in her country.