Top Hungarian conductor delays concert to criticise Europe’s response to refugee crisis

7 September 2015, 11:24 | Updated: 22 September 2015, 21:16

In a speech before a concert in Berlin yesterday the great conductor Iván Fischer called the EU’s policies ‘dated’ and ‘obsolete’ and called on European countries to allow refugees to register in whichever country they choose.

Ahead of a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No.7 Iván Fischer turned to the audience and began his speech by welcoming to the concert a group of Syrian refugees he had invited.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I greet and welcome you warm-heartedly to the beginning of the Season. And especially I greet and welcome our guests from Syria, who for the first time listen to music with us in the concert hall.”

He went on to say: “I hear worrying reports from Hungary. Lots of people who are tired and in despair are being held against their will.

I appeal to the German, Hungarian and European authorities to free these people immediately so that they can go where they wish to go, and be registered where they wish to be registered.”

Under rules laid out in the EU's Dublin accord, refugees are required to seek asylum in the first European country they reach.

Fischer called the rules “old, obsolete” and said they didn’t work for such large numbers of people.

He closed his speech by saying: “The problem will be solved when enough tolerant people live in Europe and they welcome refugees warm-heartedly, generously.

"May music play its part in this endeavour.”

The speech (in German) was filmed and has been shared on Facebook:


Vor Beginn des Saisoneröffnungskonzerts heute Abend hat sich Iván Fischer, Chefdirigent des Konzerthausorchesters Berlin...

Posted by Konzerthaus Berlin on Friday, 4 September 2015



Hungary’s government has put up a razor-wire fence on the country’s southern border with Serbia. The country’s prime minister Viktor Orbán has been criticised this week for his hardline response to the humanitarian crisis.