Wednesday 17 January 2018

Hungary tells UN Europe is now at its limit on migrants

Ruth De LaMere Budapest

Hungary and Malta have called on UN member states to introduce global refugee quotas to help ease the burden on Europe from the current migrant crisis.

Addressing a high-level meeting on migration on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban called on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to launch negotiations on burden-sharing by setting global quotas on accepting migrants.

"Let me be clear: Europe will not be able to carry this burden on our own," he said.

Tackling the migrant crisis will require greater attention to bolstering peace and economic development, Mr Orban argued, to "give back these people their homes and their country".

But last night the EU threatened to take action against Hungary. The head of the European Commission's migration and protection wing, Laurent Muschel, said that there were "a number of issues that we find problematic in their (Hungary's) new legislation".

He said: "We are ready to take any further steps if needed."

Mr Muschel did not go into details but said the Commission would lay out its concerns in a letter to Hungary by the end of this week.

The EU's border agency says more than 155,000 people have crossed Hungary's borders this year.

Earlier, Mr Orban had insisted: "It cannot be our objective to provide them with a new European life."

His remarks followed a call from Hungary's foreign minister Peter Szijjarto for global quotas.

"We suggest that all major players should bear some burden. We should introduce some world quotas," said Mr Szijjarto.

"The major sources of this mass popular movement are countries which became unstable because of international political decisions. They were not made only by Europe."

Malta later echoed Hungary's call at the UN, with prime minister Joseph Muscat calling for the establishment of "a Bretton Woods system of migration".

Mr Muscat was referring to the Bretton Woods summit in 1944, which provided the basis for the modern system of central banking and foreign exchange as well as the creation of the World Bank, then called the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the IMF.


Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka last night said that his country was also opposing any large European Union plan for a permanent compulsory redistribution of asylum seekers among the bloc's 28 nations.

During a debate on the migrant crisis in the lower house of Parliament on Thursday, Sobotka said: "We're in the middle of a battle over a realistic approach of the entire European Union to the migrant crisis.

"The Czech Republic will vote against such a proposal. No government would be able to change such a mechanism in the future."

Germany's interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, is urging migrants arriving in the country to respect other people, show patience and not fight each other, following occasional recent brawls at crowded refugee accommodation.

Germany has been struggling to accommodate the newcomers within its borders.

Irish Independent

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