Government suspends European asylum agreement
Budapest, June 23 (MTI) – For technical reasons the immigration office has suspended for an indefinite period the European agreement on asylum, the so-called Dublin regulation on transfers, the interior ministry told MTI on Tuesday.
A statement by the interior ministry said that Hungary is the country most burdened by illegal immigration out of the member states concerned. The ministry said Hungary has exhausted its capacities.
Under the Dublin Regulation, a European Union law, Hungary is responsible for taking back asylum-seekers who first entered the EU through it and who are turned back from other member states.
Up until June 22 this year, Hungarian police detained 60,620 illegal immigrants, including 60,089 along the Serbian section of the border, the statement said.
“Hungary has exhausted its capacities,” it said, adding that the situation calls for rapid action, forcing Hungary to take measures before the EU makes decisions.
In the spirit of EU solidarity, Hungary has asked the member states of the Dublin system not to launch the scheduled refugee transfers and not to schedule further ones. The Hungarian authorities are working to expand the capacities, an effort that requires time, it said.
So far Hungary has fully met its obligations assumed under the related international treaties, registered the applicants for the Dublin procedure and taken their fingerprints, the statement said.
Under the Eurodac system used to identify fingerprints of illegal immigrants, Hungary is seen as the member state whose border the illegal immigrant first crossed to enter the EU, the ministry noted. It is clear, however, that asylum-seekers from Syria or Afghanistan had to cross at least four borders illegally to submit an asylum request to the Hungarian immigration authority, it added.
Speaking to public news channel M1 about the immigration authority’s move, government spokesperson Zoltan Kovacs said Hungary was “full”.
Kovacs said it had been discussed for weeks that Hungary could not take in any more asylum-seekers as there are 600-800 illegal immigrants entering the country on a daily basis, creating a “huge burden” for those charged with registering asylum-seekers.
The spokesman said Hungary over-delivers “in the struggle” with the refugee crisis, adding that it was unfair to only discuss the crisis Mediterranean countries are facing. He said Hungary would be unable to process the return of asylum-seekers whose requests were not approved in other member states.
Asked whether Hungary had a right to suspend the Dublin Regulation, Kovacs said the country “hardly has any other choice”, adding that it is not prepared for the influx of refugees.
He said the EU has no answer to the crisis either, and that the government continues to await measures that could resolve the situation on a European level.
The leftist opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) party said that the government “has written Hungary out of Europe” by citing a technical issue as its reason for suspending the asylum agreement. In a statement, the party said the government had “deliberately violated an important international agreement” in the interest of its political goals. DK said Hungary does not take the least responsibility for refugees registered in the country, and the government’s move was an “own goal” since there would be even more refugees in the future.
The opposition Egyutt party said the government “has failed in terms of humanity” and is constantly hurting national interests “by isolating Hungary from our Western allies”. The party said it was “unacceptable” that the government was refusing to help people whose lives are under threat.
Austrian Foreign Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner called on Hungary to respect the Dublin Regulation. She said Austria is prepared to help Hungary in combatting the refugee crisis. Austrian news agency APA said Hungary’s ambassador to Vienna has been summoned to the foreign ministry to explain the situation.
A spokeswoman for the European Commission said that the EC has sought immediate clarification from the Hungarian authorities on the reasons for the suspension. “As the Dublin rules do not foresee the suspension of transfers by the receiving Member States, the Commission has asked Hungary for immediate clarification on the nature and extent of the technical failure, and on the measures taken to remedy the situation,” the spokeswoman told AFP.
Foreign policy expert Zoltan Galik told public news channel M1 that EU member states have no authority to suspend the Dublin Regulation, as the document does not give permission to do so. Under the regulation, a member state in trouble can indicate the problem and then devise a plan for crisis management. He said Hungary has to be “very careful” with suspending responsibilities prescribed in the regulation, as the move could trigger legal action from the European Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights.