Hungary ‘to return economic migrants where they came from’

AFP / Attila Kisbenedek | Riot police stand on the train track as they monitor migrants and refugees at the Keleti railway station in Budapest on September 1, 2015

Hungary will register all migrants that come to the country and send economic migrants back to the state from which they first entered its borders, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told reporters on Tuesday,.


“We plan to register all migrants regardless of the fact that we are not the first member state they enter. We will register everyone who submits the request for asylum and carry out the procedure,” Szijjarto told reporters on the sidelines of a business conference in Bled in Slovenia.

“If the decision is positive the refugee can stay, but if it is not positive we cannot give shelter to the economic migrants, we cannot bear that burden, so they will be returned where they come from,” he added.

Szijjarto also said Hungary did not support the quota system for migrant distribution being called for by Germany, saying such a system only encourages migrants and smugglers.

Hungary has been struggling with a large influx of migrants in recent months, with the country often the first destination within the European Union for refugees arriving via the Balkans.

The arrivals form part of a larger Europe-wide crisis that has seen more than 350,000, often from war-torn countries in Africa and the Middle East, attempt to reach the continent so far this year, according to figures released Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday Hungarian police removed migrants from Budapest’s main international train station who had been waiting to board trains to Austria and Germany.

Although there were no reports of clashes between migrants and police, several hundred refugees staged an angry demonstration outside the station.

Hungary’s decision to bar the migrants from westbound trains was a reversal from the previous day, when Hungary and Austria let trainloads of undocumented migrants leave for Germany, a violation of EU rules they now have little power to enforce.

Merkel calls for ‘fair distribution’

European laws, known as the “Dublin Regulation”, require asylum seekers to apply in the country where they first enter the EU and remain there until their applications are processed, even though the 26 members of the bloc’s Schengen zone maintain no border controls between them.

Germany announced last month it would allow Syrians arriving from elsewhere in the EU to apply for asylum without being sent back to the country where they entered the bloc. It insisted on Tuesday that this did not change the law, and other states must demand migrants register where they arrive.

The escalating refugee crisis has divided the 28-member European Union ahead of emergency talks on September 14.

Merkel on Tuesday reiterated Germany’s position that migrants arriving in the EU should be more fairly distributed among its members.

“For those refugees who are being persecuted or have fled war, there should be a fair distribution in Europe based on the economic strength, productivity and the size of each country,” she said at a joint press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Political parties that oppose immigration have gained ground across Europe, not least in Hungary where the government has reinforced the border with a razor wire fence and deployed thousands of extra police. More than 140,000 people have crossed into Hungary from Serbia this year alone.


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