Hungary announces plans to reject migrants from EU states
by Compiled from Wire Services
ISTANBULMar 02, 2017 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Compiled from Wire Services
Mar 02, 2017 12:00 am
Hungary will not accept any refugee sent by other European Union countries, a minister in charge of the Hungarian Prime Ministry said late Tuesday.
"Western European countries, especially Germany and Sweden, want to send about 30,000 migrants back to Hungary. We will not accept them," Janos Lazar told reporters during a conference in Budapest.
Lazar said such a demand would spark debate in the coming months. "The migrants did not enter the EU zone from Hungary — they entered from Greece. Hungary will not take any step to back them," he added.
As part of measures against refugees, Hungary has reinforced it borders with soldiers and police with the support of the Visegrad Group partners — a cultural and political alliance that also includes the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.
The country has begun building a second line of fence along its southern border with Serbia last week. A barbed-wire fence is already in place, erected in 2015, when Hungary was part of the main overland route for hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees, many fleeing the war in Syria. It effectively blocked that route to Germany, where many were heading, but Hungary has said a second fence would make the barrier more effective and hold back migrants while processing their asylum requests.
Although the pressure on the border is far from the peak of the 2015 crisis, border patrols still prevent hundreds of illegal border crossings per day and escort back dozens of migrants who manage to break through, the government says. Poles for the second fence are already standing near the border station Kelebia, and construction materials have also been shipped to the border elsewhere.
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff, Janos Lazar, last week said the government had earmarked 38 billion forints ($130 million) for the fence and containment camps to hold migrants. He said the second border fence, which will extend only to the Hungary-Serbia border for now, would be built as soon as the weather permitted and would be standing by the end of spring.
Orban has called the wave of mostly Muslim migrants into Europe since 2015 a threat to the continent's cultural and religious heritage, and has built border fences to try to keep them out. Hungary's government "cannot risk changing the fundamental ethnic character of the country," he said. "That would not enhance the value of the country but downgrade it instead, and toss it into chaos."
According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 500,000 refugees entered Greece in 2015. Many crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece with the ultimate goal of reaching other EU countries, including Austria, Germany, and France. Before Hungarian measures to close its borders took effect, a popular refugee route went through Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria.