Orbán proposes new line of defence at Vienna summit
Vienna (MTI) – Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has urged a new line of defence in Europe, as a worst-case scenario, at a summit in Vienna on Saturday, attended by heads of state and governments affected by the migration crisis.
The plan is needed to prepare for a situation where the agreement between the European Union and Turkey fails, he told a press conference after the summit in Vienna. He welcomed an agreement among participants that the western Balkan route must remain closed before migrants, but criticised that there was no answer on “when Greece can manage to close its border to the south”.
Orbán said this situation raises the question of “where Europe’s external borders can be defended.” Some say there is no need for such defence, because the Turkey-EU pact will prevent last year’s events from re-ocurring. Others, among them Hungary, think there is a need for a Plan B, because this pact cannot be trusted exclusively. “For one thing, because there was recently an attempted coup in Turkey,” he said.
One possibility for such a defence line is on the Macedonian-Greek border, another is on the Serbian-Macedonian border and the third choice is the Hungarian-Serbian border, he said. There is an idea in Austria, as the fourth option, that the defence line should be between Austria and Hungary. “This would be painful for us,” Orbán said, adding that instead he would encourage Austria to join forces with Hungary and “defend the southern border of Hungary with Serbia”. He said he had held talks with the Macedonian prime minister and made it clear that if there were a new line of defence built south of the Hungarian-Serbian border Hungary would provide assistance, both financially and in resources.
Orbán urged a similar agreement to be crafted with Egypt as an existing agreement with Turkey, and he gave warning that 5.5 million migrants were currently waiting there. Without an agreement “we may get a surprise,” he said. He called for supporting stability in Libya, where there is a chance of building a “giant refugee city” where illegal migrants can be returned to from Europe.
Orbán said Hungary wants the European Union to raise spending on handling migration and to distribute it more justly between the affected countries. “The money is always given to Italy and Greece” while Bulgaria, Macedonia and Serbia receive “shamefully small sums”, he said.
Orbán reiterated that Hungary has so far paid out 500 million euros for protecting its borders and it has not requested any money for this purpose from the EU.
The quota system is an invitation. Instead, Europe should clearly say that it will not receive any more migrants arriving illegally, Orbán said. Hotspots should be set up outside the EU’s borders and only those who request and gain asylum status there should be allowed to enter Europe. “If this is implemented, we don’t need quotas,” he said.
Orbán said “the whole of Hungary” has been “deceived” by EU leaders on the quotas, because the European Council had twice announced in writing a decision that quotas will be voluntary. In contrast the European Commission started a completely different legal procedure which was then pushed through European Parliament to the council of ministers, where a qualified majority was enough for it to pass and “Hungary could do nothing alone to stop it”.
“We were tricked once, and if we let this pass, they will do it again!” Orbán said, adding that the referendum in Hungary would provide a response to this, showing that a country “just because it is small, cannot be tricked by the big ones”.
Asked if Hungary would change its constitution in case its Oct. 2. referendum succeeds, Orbán said “the job of politicians is to find a legal form for what the people want. Once they have said it, it should be cemented so that it cannot be removed.”
Solidarity means everyone contributes what they can to the community. Hungary cannot contribute a quota, … it can do its share by protecting the borders, Orbán said. It is protecting Austria and Germany, too.
In response to a question about German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s position, he said there has been no change in the German position and the Germans still believe that “the quota is the only sensible thing”. He added that there is no change in Hungary’s position, either, namely that the border must be protected.