Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban smiles at the end of his annual state of the nation speech in Budapest, Hungary, on Sunday. Photo by Szilard Koszticsak/EPA-EFE
Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Hungarian mothers with four children or more will never have to pay taxes again, under a new plan addressing the country's population decline.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced the exemption in his state of the nation address Sunday, during which he also said families raising two or more children will be given preferential loans to buy homes.
The right-wing Orbán, a staunch immigration opponent who's been skeptical of the European Union, handily won re-election last April while voters gave his party a super-majority in Hungarian Parliament.
"In all of Europe there are fewer and fewer children, and the answer of the west to this is migration," Orbán said in his address.
"They want as many migrants to enter as there are missing kids, so that the numbers will add up. We Hungarians have a different way of thinking. Instead of just numbers, we want Hungarian children. Migration for us is surrender."
Along with low birthrates, Hungary faces economic challenges as people leave for better-paying jobs in western Europe. Poland, Romania and Bulgaria have seen similar patterns of emigration as their citizens move away for higher standards of living.
Orban and other leaders in eastern Europe have dismissed immigration as a solution to population declines and manpower shortages. Hungary built a wall along its southern border in 2015 to keep migrants out of the country.
"The people of Europe have come to a historic crossroads," Orban said in his speech, criticizing "mixed population countries" and saying Christian majorities in some countries could soon become minorities.