Responding to the German chancellor, who said in a recent election debate that Hungary’s premier had failed to show solidarity by refusing to help refugees in 2015, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó countered on Monday that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had ordered the authorities to uphold Schengen rules in all circumstances.
Referring to the wave of migrants that set off from Budapest on foot in September 2015, Angela Merkel said in Sunday’s debate with Martin Schulz, her Social Democrat rival, that “Orbán took away the tickets from the refugees in Budapest and did not let the trains leave”. She added that behind her decision to accept the migrants was the fear that “Hungary won’t show solidarity in aiding the refugees”.
Szijjártó told a press conference that “train tickets do not override European law”, and only those with valid travel documents had been allowed to leave Hungary westwards.
He said the only exceptions were when the Austrian or German chancellors “expressed a different view on the issue … Their reasons in doing so are their own affairs.”
Hungary is providing aid to illegal migrants defined under international law, the minister said, adding that in order to benefit, migrants would have to turn up at the “lawfully designated stations”.
Commenting on the fact that Hungary had become a topic of the debate, Szijjártó said called it an “honour” for the country and recognition that Germany was “finally aware of the efforts Hungary is making to fulfil its commitments to the bloc by protecting itself and Europe”. Szijjártó said he expected Hungary to “be the subject of further discussions”, because the country intended to carry on fulfilling its commitments.
In an interview to German paper Welt am Sonntag, Merkel said that migrants who had departed from Budapest on foot towards the Austrian border in 2015 had done so because they had been “misled” by the Hungarian government, adding that the fact “some countries refuse to accept any refugees is not on. That contradicts the spirit of Europe.”
The German government expressed grave concerns over the Hungarian asylum system and as a result, it stopped sending asylum seekers back to Hungary – the German press reported.
Photo: MTI/AP/WDR/Herby Sachs