Mar 21, 2016

“We have avoided the greatest danger,” says PM Orbán After EU Summit

Concerning the agreement between the European Union and Turkey, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that Hungarian diplomacy has achieved its goals.

“We have avoided the greatest danger,” the Prime Minister said at the press conference on Friday afternoon, particularly concerning the fact that the agreement states that refugees can only be taken in on a voluntary basis. Every provision in the agreement that is concerned with the system for relocating refugees specifically and emphatically states that participation in the scheme is voluntary. With this, Hungry has achieved its goals, the prime minister said.

However, the greatest achievement of the past six months, he said, is the policy decision – made prior to the agreement reached with Turkey – to reinstate national border controls on the Western Balkans migration route.

Mr. Orbán added that Friday’s EU-Turkish agreement was necessary because, by enforcing controls on the Western Balkans route, the flow of migrants has been successfully stopped  at the Greek-Macedonian and Greek-Bulgarian borders, and as a result the situation in Greece has further deteriorated. The Prime Minister said that this tendency must be halted at all costs, and if there is no unity within the EU we may even lose Greece as a stable EU member state.

Mr. Orbán reiterated that Hungary, together with the Visegrád countries, has from the beginning opposed the compulsory resettlement of refugees. At present, however, the key country is Macedonia, which must be given all the help it needs to maintain its border protection capability.

The prime minister also mentioned the Hungarian diplomatic goal that Ukraine should be granted visa exemption before Turkey, and this found preliminary support in Brussels. He said that progress has been made on the issue of visa-free travel for Ukrainians, which for Hungary is a question of friendship, politics and morality. Hungary takes the view that the Ukrainian people need help, and authorising visa-free travel to the EU would be significant.

He further stressed that, as part of the agreement and the funding to be provided for Turkey, Hungary will not assume any financial liability that would impose unbearable burdens on the country. Mr. Orbán said that according to the agreement, over and above the three billion euros already offered by the EU towards providing for Syrian refugees in the territory of Turkey, the leaders of the member states have agreed that any additional EU funding may only be provided after the currently approved sum has been used.