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World News \ Europe

Hungary calls on EU to close borders to migrants

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called on the EU to close its borders to migrants - AP

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called on the EU to close its borders to migrants - AP

09/01/2016 12:29

(Vatican Radio)  Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel says she wants to make it easier to deport migrants who commit crimes following the sexual assaults on women in Cologne. Yet, Eastern European leaders suggest it is to little to late with Hungary's prime minister urging the closure of European Union borders to migrants fleeing war and poverty.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report:

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, known for his anti-migrant rhetoric, told Hungarian radio that ending what the flow of migrants fleeing war and poverty would be in his words "the decisive issue of 2016". 

Orbán, whose right-wing government already built fences along the Croatian and Serbian borders, also called for the construction of what he described as a "European defense line" on Greece's northern borders with Macedonia and Bulgaria.

He said the flow of migrants entering the European Union must be fully stopped, not just slowed.

Critics say that Hungary's government forgot that hundreds of thousands fled following the crushed 1956 Revolution against Soviet domination and that nowadays hundreds of thousands of Hungarians works as migrants in Western Europe. 

Arguments rejected

However Orbán has rejected those arguments saying Hungarians working in countries such as Britain should not be seen as 'migrants'. He made clear to state radio that he rejects British plans to cut benefits for Eastern Europeans. "All the Hungarian workers who are in Britain contribute more to the economy than they receive in social benefits," he said.

He cited British statistics as saying there are some 800,000 Polish workers and 55,000 Hungarian workers in Britain. 

Orbán made clear however that he fears that the influx of mainly Muslim migrants and refugees into Europe means that EU citizens including Hungarians "are increasingly losing the possibility of free movement".

He said no "one except Hungarians" protected the external borders of the EU's passport free Schengen zone, and that therefore "borders, defenses, visa systems, border controls and fences are being created" inside that area. 

Muslim migrants

His comments came after the prime minister of neighboring Slovakia, Robert Fico, said his country does not want to accept more Muslim migrants and that he rejected the EU's mandatory quota system for the distribution of refugees among the 28 EU member states. Slovakia and Hungary have launched court cases against the quota system.     

Fico also said the EU should speed up plans to create a border and coast guard agency aimed at improving the protection of the bloc's external borders following the assaults and robberies during the New Year's Eve festivities in Cologne, Germany.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she wants to make it easier to deport migrants who commit crimes following the sex attacks on women in Cologne, but Eastern European leaders suggest it is to little to late. 

Under current German laws, asylum seekers are only forced back if they have been sentenced to at least three years imprisonment and providing their lives are not at risk in their countries of origin.

09/01/2016 12:29