BUDAPEST (Reuters) - The era of multiculturalism is over and Hungary should be spared its effects at all costs, the country's Prime Minister said on Wednesday.
In comments that appeared to toughen his already uncompromising stance on immigration, Viktor Orban was quoted as telling a Hungarian newspaper there should be no "mass-scale" mixing of different creeds.
"Multiculturalism means the coexistence of Islam, Asian religions and Christianity. We will do everything to spare Hungary from that," he said in an interview with daily Napi Gazdasag.
"We welcome non-Christian investors, artists, scientists, but we don't want to mix on a mass scale."
Orban, whose governing Fidesz party is losing ground in the polls to the far-right, anti-immigrant Jobbik party, has clashed with European counterparts over his isolationist views.
At the European Parliament in mid-May, he criticized as "bordering on insanity" EU proposals for migrant quotas drafted in response to thousands of deaths among asylum-seekers trying to reach Europe across the Mediterranean in increasing numbers.
On Wednesday he called Jobbik dangerous for Hungary "because they offer a constant temptation, an intellectual capitulation to the simplest solutions", saying his government would strike a conciliatory tone towards voters.
Orban, who has often sparred with Brussels during his five years in power, also criticized the EU's response to economic crisis, calling it the "clumsiest" in the world, and played down prospects of Hungary adopting the euro.
Eastern European countries had a competitive alternative in keeping their own currencies, and Hungary's forint could stay strong and stable for decades if domestic fiscal policy was tightened and economic growth boosted, he told the newspaper.
Central Bank Governor Gyorgy Matolcsy, one of Orban's closest allies, told a forum on Tuesday that Hungary would be able to adopt the euro at any time after 2020.
The central bank moved on Tuesday to channel more market funds towards Hungarian government debt, potentially cutting the country's exposure to foreign currency debt.
Reporting by Marton Dunai; editing by John Stonestreet