Prague, September 11 (MTI) – The number of migrants crossing into Hungary could total between 400,000-500,000 by the end of the year if the country fails to consolidate the defence of its southern border, the foreign minister said in Prague on Friday.
Attending a meeting of his counterparts from the Visegrad Four (V4) countries, Germany and Luxembourg, Peter Szijjarto noted that so far 180,000 migrants had entered Hungary.
“Hungary will meet its obligations and protect the external borders of the European Union,” the minister pledged. He added that from Sept. 15 illegal entry would become a criminal act.
In response to a question from MTI, Szijjarto said the government has so far received 6.7 million euros in aid for managing the crisis and has spent 120 million euros.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek, however, called on the European Union to provide more financial aid for Hungary.
Germany, the primary destination country for migrants, expects to receive 800,000 migrants by the end of the year, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, adding that the country expects an influx of 40,000 refugees over the next weekend alone. Steinmeier once again asked EU member states to show solidarity towards migrants to better manage the crisis, which he called “the greatest challenge in the history of the European Union”.
The six ministers in attendance agreed that a joint European response was needed to overcome the crisis and welcomed the European Commission’s proposals aimed at solving it.
The V4 countries and Germany and Luxembourg, however, still disagreed on implementing the quota system proposed by the EC, with the V4 countries opposing and Germany and Luxembourg supporting the idea.
Zaoralek said the V4 countries supported joint European responses “aimed at handling every aspect” of the crisis, adding that the group maintains that the quota system “does nothing to solve the problem”.
Szijjarto said Europe “needs to deal with the challenge first and then its consequences”.
Jean Asselborn, foreign minister of Luxembourg, reiterated that the “European problem” requires a “European solution”.
Miroslav Lajcak, foreign minister of Slovakia, rejected suggestions that the V4 show no solidarity towards other EU member states in handling the crisis.
Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna warned that it was important to prevent the emergence of a “two-speed Europe” in which one part of the continent does its fair share in handling the crisis while the other does not.