Friday 9 December 2016

500,000 refugees on the way to EU - Hungary

Dean Gray in Brussels

Published 03/12/2015 | 02:30

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban

EU and Turkish leaders may announce a behind-the-scenes agreement later this week to resettle 400,000 to 500,000 Syrian refugees from Turkey to the EU, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban said.

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Mr Orban has locked horns with EU partners for years over economic policy, political freedoms and most recently the handling of the migrant crisis, in which the Hungarian leader took a hard line and erected a steel fence to keep out migrants.

Hungary has firmly resisted the idea of resettlement quotas to distribute more evenly the migrants, most of whom wanted to go to Germany or Sweden.

Speaking to a meeting of Hungarian leaders in Budapest, Mr Orban said he expected intense pressure from Europe to accept some part of those half a million refugees, something he said Budapest could not do.

He added that the agreement has already been floated at a recent EU summit in Malta but was abandoned after its proponents could not gather the necessary support for it.

"The issue (of resettlement) will be a hot potato in the coming period because even though this could be kept in a semi-secret state... someone somewhere - I think in Berlin this week - will announce that 400,000 to 500,000 Syrian refugees could be brought straight from Turkey to the EU," Mr Orban said.

"This nasty surprise still awaits Europeans."

Irish Independent

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