Hungary: The EU should solve the refugee crisis without Turkey ‘if necessary’

A refugee camp near the village of Idomeni, in northern Greece. [European Commission]

The EU should be ready to “defend herself alone” in the refugee crisis if the deal with Ankara does not work out, a Hungarian official said on Tuesday (5 March). EURACTIV Greece reports.

Speaking at an EPP ministerial meeting, Hungary’s State Secretary for European Affairs, Takács Szabolcs, aired his country’s position ahead of the crucial EU summit on 17-18 March on the refugee crisis.

Szabolcs stressed that the most important thing for Budapest was to protect the European Union’s external borders.

“If the EU-Turkey deal brings us closer to that, then, of course, we will support it. But the devil lies in the details, so we have to see on what we can agree on,” he commented.

The Hungarian official expressed satisfaction with the fact that the Western Balkan route has been closed, emphasising that the number of migrants in the region has significantly lessened.

“If the EU and the member states live up to the expectations deriving from the EU-Turkey deal, then there might be a good solution […] However, we have always stressed at the same time that the EU should be able to defend herself alone if it’s necessary,” he said, adding that if a deal with Turkey is still not working then the EU “should have a viable and sustainable solution”.

The red line

Referring to the resettlement mechanism envisaged in the EU-Turkey draft deal, the Hungarian politician noted that it would only work if it’s on a voluntary basis.

“This is a very important Hungarian red line and anything that we expect must be voluntary,” Szabolcs added.

Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, recently announced that a referendum will be held on EU plans for a system of mandatory quotas.

Hungary to hold referendum on quotas, Austria remains defiant

Hungary’s prime minister announced that a referendum will be held on EU plans for a system of mandatory quotas, while Austria remained unrepentant in the face of continued criticism from Greece.

Dóra Bókay, Spokesperson of the Permanent Representation of Hungary to the EU, told EURACTIV Greece last week that “the announced referendum is about all the future obligatory quotas” and not the already agreed resettlement quotas of 160,000 people from Italy and Greece.

“The JHA Council decision of September 22 on the resettlement quotas has been challenged at the European Court of Justice,” she added.


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