Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel on Friday played down remarks by his foreign minister calling for Hungary's exclusion from the EU due to its treatment of migrants, noting that Jean Asselborn had not been speaking on behalf of the government.
Migration is a sensitive subject in Europe, where more than 1 million people arrived last year, including many fleeing war and conflict.
Hungary has been openly hostile to migrants, erecting a border fence to prevent their entry and introducing harsh laws to discourage people from crossing its territory.
Countries who carry out such actions "should temporarily or if needed permanently be excluded from the EU," Asselborn had said in Tuesday's edition of the German newspaper Die Welt.
His comments triggered a stinging response from Budapest, with the Hungarian foreign minister calling Asselborn "sermonizing, pompous and frustrated."
"I think that Mr Asselborn himself has recognized that his suggestions were maybe, ... blunt," Bettel said of Luxembourg's top diplomat, ahead of a meeting of EU leaders in Bratislava on Friday.
"This is not a position of my government," he added.
"We are in a family," Bettel said of the EU. "If we have some problems in the family, we have to discuss it in the family and not kick someone out," he noted.
At the same time, he said the bloc must respect the "fundamental values" that Asselborn had raised in his comments.
"We cannot create a Europe without human values, liberty - which are very important - and of course we have to speak about this," the Luxembourg premier said. Economic interests were not a reason to avoid discussing such values, he added.
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Hungary should be excluded from the European Union, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said in an interview published Tuesday, taking issue with the country's migration policies weeks before it holds a controversial referendum on refugee quotas.