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Hungary to U.N.: Let’s Implement a Worldwide Quota System for Refugees

Hungary may have voted against an EU quota system, but now they want to implement one worldwide.

Hundreds of migrants arrive by train at Hegyeshalom on the Hungarian and Austrian border to walk the four kilometres into Austria on September 22, 2015 in Hegyeshalom, Hungary. Thousands of migrants have arrived in Austria over the weekend with more en-route from Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia. Politicians across the European Union are holding meetings on the refugee crisis with EU leaders attending an extraordinary summit on Wednesday to try and solve the crisis and the dispute of how to relocate 120,000 migrants aross EU states.
Hundreds of migrants arrive by train at Hegyeshalom on the Hungarian and Austrian border to walk the four kilometres into Austria on September 22, 2015 in Hegyeshalom, Hungary. Thousands of migrants have arrived in Austria over the weekend with more en-route from Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia. Politicians across the European Union are holding meetings on the refugee crisis with EU leaders attending an extraordinary summit on Wednesday to try and solve the crisis and the dispute of how to relocate 120,000 migrants aross EU states.

Hungary might be one of just four countries opposed to a European Union quota system that will disperse 120,000 refugees across the government bloc, but now Budapest has a new plan: Implementing a quota on “major players” around the world to relieve Europe of shouldering the entire burden.

“What we suggest is all major players of world politics should bear some burden. We should distribute it and we should introduce some…quotas,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told reporters Tuesday at U.N. headquarters in New York.

Hungary will officially introduce the proposal at a U.N. summit on migration Wednesday, Szijjarto said.

His suggestion, however, seemed to contradict other statements he made in the same press conference. Szijjarto also claimed Hungary would be willing to pay for refugee camps closer to conflict zones like Syria because refugees “should stay as close [to their homes] as possible so when the conflict is over, they can return easily.”

But even if Budapest’s plans to solve the crisis seem shaky, its position on migrants and asylum-seekers is clear: Putting them anywhere else is better than keeping them in Hungary.

In recent weeks, Hungarian leaders have come under fire from EU neighbors and human rights officials for their strict policies surrounding migration, which have included hastily building a fence on the border with Serbia and using tear gas and water cannons to refuse bedraggled migrants and asylum-seekers — many of whom are fleeing civil war in Syria. Szijjarto defended the fence Tuesday, saying “there are critics but no alternative suggestions,” and adding that Hungary has never questioned the American-built fence on the U.S. border with Mexico.

Pressed by Foreign Policy to respond to U.N. human rights officials’ condemnation of use of force against migrants and asylum-seekers, Szijjarto called the U.N. comments “unfair” and “one-sided” because they didn’t take into account injuries sustained by Hungarian police.

“There were no innocent refugees there, they were people who had committed a crime,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the normal way life should work in 21st century Europe that you start to attack the police from a territory of another country,” he added, pointing to reports of migrants and refugees throwing stones and large blocks of cement at Hungarian forces from the Serbian side of the border.

Many trying to reach Hungary want only to pass through on their way to Germany, where they hope to qualify for asylum and benefit from Germany’s generous public benefits. Hungary largely blames its influx of refugees on Manfred Schmidt, Germany’s former head of migration in Germany, whose office offered to bend EU rules and accept migrants regardless of where they first arrived. Schmidt resigned earlier this month amid accusations he failed to adequately prepare Germany for the refugee crisis, but Szijjarto took the opportunity Tuesday to jab at his policies anyway.

“It’s a mistake when European politicians make statements which encourage people to move to Europe,” he said.

Szijjarto said Budapest remains opposed to the EU quota plan in large part because it is outdated and would disperse only 120,000 refugees — even though more than 275,000 migrants and asylum-seekers have arrived so far this year in Hungary alone.

But for now, Szijjarto said, the focus should be on setting up an immediate solution to defend Europe from the more than 30 million people in Europe’s “close neighborhood” whom he said are at risk of becoming migrants or refugees.

Up first? Deploying troops to secure and protect Europe’s borders and prevent anyone else from coming in.

Szijjarto voiced support for an earlier plan proposed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban that would create a special EU force to help Greece seal off its islands, where hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees have landed after sailing across the Mediterranean from North Africa. The top Hungarian diplomat suggested that before any quota system is established, Greece should use soldiers, policemen, dogs, helicopters, and planes to protect its borders, and other EU countries should pitch in.

“Until we get control over the borders it doesn’t make sense to talk about numbers,” he said.

Image Credit: Christoper Furlong/Getty Images News

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