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Border Closure: Hungary To Build 4-Metre High Fence Along Border With Serbia

Tamás Székely 2015.06.17.

Hungary’s government has ordered the interior minister to prepare construction of a 4-metre fence along Hungary’s border with Serbia, the foreign minister said. Preparations should be ready by next Wednesday, Péter Szijjártó said after a cabinet meeting. The plans are for a 175-kilometre section of the border, he said, adding that governments of Hungary and Serbia will meet on July 1 to discuss the details.

The move does not breach Hungary’s international obligations or contracts, and it is not unique. There have been fences raised under migration pressure along the Greek-Turkish and Bulgarian-Turkish borders, and in Spanish cities in north Africa, he added. The legal groundwork is also being prepared to declare all EU states and candidate countries “safe”, he said. It had emerged at Tuesday’s meeting of EU interior ministers that Hungary was the hardest hit by immigration among all member states, Szijjártó said. Problems related to the flow of immigrants on farms in the south have also been reported as “serious”. Hungary hopes there will be a joint EU solution in this „very serious challenge”, but it “cannot wait any longer”, he said.

The parliamentary group of ruling Fidesz said it asked the government to consider similar measures to stop immigration as those planned by western European countries. If these western countries were to seal their borders, Hungary must also close its southern borders, or else the country will face 100,000 migrants stuck here by the end of the year, Fidesz group leader Antal Rogán told public television. By the end of June, the number of illegal immigrants will have exceeded 60,000, he said. Germany and Austria have already indicated that they are preparing to return about 15,000 immigrants to Hungary, Rogán said, adding that at the same time there has been a constant influx of illegal immigrants at the country’s southern borders.

Meanwhile Hungarian MPs held a debate in Parliament over immigration as three senior Fidesz officials filed an amendment to tighten rules on granting refugee status in Hungary. The bill motioned to declare a certain set of countries “safe” in terms of immigration and that entrants from these transit countries should be denied asylum. Antal Rogán said Europe has basically “abandoned the Schengen treaty” over the past few days as one border was closed after the other. He mentioned Serbia as one of the “safe” third countries and said that migrants coming from that country should be sent back. The co-ruling Christian Democrats and the radical nationalist Jobbik party supported the bill, while opposition parties argued against it.

Socialist (MSZP) lawmakers left the chamber during the debate. Imre Vejkey (ChristDem) said EU laws were unfit to tackle a rise in immigrants. Ádám Mirkóczki (Jobbik) said immigrants were coming to Europe to “abuse the benefits system” and Hungary could easily become a “target country” if laws were tightened in the west. András Schiffer, co-leader of opposition LMP, said EU countries did not have the resources to deal with immigration-related problems alone. Zsuzsanna Szelényi, a lawmaker for opposition Együtt, said Hungary should work on a solution jointly with other member states, adding that the bill in its current form only “paved the way to deportations”. Tímea Szabó (PM) said closing the borders would not ease the burden on authorities, as they still had to examine requests for asylum in a preliminary procedure.

via hungarymatters.hu and MTI photo: wikimedia