Budapest, March 17 (MTI) – The Hungarian government’s goal is to argue that any scheme to exchange or relocate refugees under a pact between the European Union and Turkey should only be carried out on a voluntary basis, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said before an EU summit in Brussels.
Arriving at the summit, Orbán told journalists that Hungary would take part in the talks of EU heads of state and government based on the premise that “if there will be an agreement with Turkey it should only contain voluntary and not mandatory measures for the relocation of migrants coming from Turkey.” Orbán said he saw a chance that this goal could be achieved.
Government office chief Janos Lázár told a press conference in Budapest earlier on Thursday that Orbán would be fighting for a quota system which is voluntary at the two-day summit starting on Thursday. The government’s clear on its position: “we don’t want anyone to be relocated to Hungary,” Lázár said. If there will be a mandatory quota scheme after all, Hungary will be “in great need of gauging its citizens’ opinions through a referendum,” he added.
Lázár said there had been no migrants arriving since the Balkan border closure, hence “it is not an EU-Turkish pact but border protection that can stop migrants”. He said the government has decided to hold off on building a fence on the Hungarian-Romanian border, adding however that the next steps would depend on the situation in Greece. He said that now help must be extended to that country in taking care of migrants stranded there.
Commenting on the announcement by the president of the European Commission in Brussels earlier in the day that the EU would propose visa liberalisation for Ukraine next month, Lázár welcomed this development and said it was also a “Hungarian success.”
Commenting on Germany’s regional elections on Sunday, Lázár said it was Germany’s internal affair and Hungary’s interests lie in maintaining a strategic partnership with Germany.
Answering a question, Lázár said that the basic figures of Hungary’s 2017 budget would be discussed by the cabinet next week. The draft budget is expected to be submitted to parliament around May 6 and a vote is planned to be held in mid-June.