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Dec 19, 2016

PM Orbán: Migrant crisis depends on border protection

PM Orbán said the external borders must be protected; those who have entered must be returned; and those who want to enter must be guarded and screened for refugee status in territories outside the EU

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has said that during the migrant crisis everything stands or falls on whether or not we secure our borders.

Following a meeting of the heads of state and government of the EU member states, in Brussels on Friday, PM Orbán said the external borders must be protected; those who have entered must be returned; and those who want to enter must be guarded and screened for refugee status in territories outside the EU. These are the three pillars on which the position of the Visegrad Four rests, he said.

PM Orbán stressed that Hungary is successfully protecting its borders. Greece is unable to close its borders, however, while Italy is either unable or unwilling to do so. “From a European point of view, the situation in Italy is dramatic," he added.

The prime minister observed that, regardless of the intentions of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the situation in Turkey is fragile, and this is a risk factor. Therefore the question is whether another wave of refugees could flow through the Western Balkans route in the future, he said.

PM Orbán said that this cannot be ruled out, but Hungary is able – on its own if need be – to limit and halt a migrant flow of any volume at its own borders, and to protect the interior of Europe.

PM Orbán added that in his view the responsibility lies with Brussels for allowing rejected asylum-seekers to leave Hungary for the West. He stressed that Brussels could redress the situation by altering the “unrealistic” rule under which asylum-seekers who appeal in court against the rejection of their applications may not currently be held in custody. He added that this proposed alteration was not accepted at the V4 prime ministers’ meeting the previous day.

According to MTI, the prime minister believes it to be an important achievement that at the summit it was agreed that the EU must enter into agreements with African countries such as the one concluded with Turkey. “In the several instances where we have entered into such agreements and where we have managed to cooperate with the governments of countries of origin, we can see that we have achieved major results in reducing the number of people coming from those countries," PM Orbán said. He specifically highlighted the need for the European Union to also conclude a migration agreement with Egypt.

He stressed that the Hungarian proposal for refugee camps to be set up and operated outside the territory of the EU, somewhere on the Libyan coast or another suitable area of Africa – which had previously been “branded as inhumane, impossible and mad” – is now gaining acceptance. “We are now talking about how we could accomplish this task, with whom we could come to an agreement, and where such facilities could be set up," he observed.