Former European Union (EU) Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) presidential candidate Norbert Hofer locked horns at a talk in Geneva where Barroso described Hofer’s migrant policies as ‘Nazi-like’.
On Thursday night the Geneva International Studies University held a panel discussion in which Mr. Barroso used the discussion to tar Mr. Hofer’s migrant policies as something out of the Nazi era, reports Kronen Zeitung.
“I like Austria. But certain people I do not like,” Barosso said while blasting Mr. Hofer who, along with other members of the Austria parliament, including Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, has proposed plans for migrant processing camps on Greek islands and in North Africa.
According to Barroso, the EU could handle more than four million migrants from the Middle East and Africa if the member states worked together on redistributing them across the political bloc. He called the proposal of Mr. Hofer and others, which is based on the current Australian migrant policy, something that reminded him of “concentration camps”.
Mr. Hofer fired back at the former Portuguese Prime Minister saying: “It’s always the same”, adding: “What’s with you, do you have refugees at your home? You are a rich man. Are there any refugees in your home?” The jibe that Barroso was willing to place the burden of the migrants on others was met with anger by the former EU head whose voice and anger sharply rose.
“Do not raise your voice,” Mr. Hofer said. “You have supported the war [in Iraq]. That’s true, that’s true, and that is why you are so nervous.” Manuel Barroso, along with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, championed the war in Iraq in the early 2000s citing the need to remove Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Barroso joins a long list of establishment politicians who have railed against Mr. Hofer including EU President Jean-Claude Juncker who claimed that dialogue was not possible with populists like Hofer. Mr. Juncker also declared earlier this year that the EU would actively fight against the election of patriotic candidates across the EU.
The delayed Austrian presidential election is set to take place on the 4th of December. Mr. Hofer debuted a new campaign poster on Friday with the slogan: “For Austria with heart and soul… So help me God.” The inclusion of religion in his posters may be a nod to neighbouring Hungary whose Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has stressed the importance of the Christian character of Europe.
Hofer, who is an evangelical protestant, said that he esteemed the Catholic church and that his wife and children were members of the Catholic faith. He stated he became an evangelical due to his beliefs that women should be allowed in the clergy.