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Government calls for European solidarity on migration

June 26th, 2015

With the Hungarian government embroiled in an international controversy over migration, commentators both on Left and Right point to the lack of a common and fair EU policy.

In televised interview on Tuesday, Péter Szijjártó, the Minister of Foreign Affairs called for European help and solidarity. He noted that Hungary received more undocumented migrants in the first half of 2015 than Italy. Mr Szijjártó stressed that Hungary suspended the return to its jurisdiction from other EU countries of asylum-seekers who were first registered in Hungary, (see BudaPost June 25) because of the technical limitations of the Hungarian refugee system. Hungary, he repeated, is not reneging on its treaty duties. He emphasised that in the government’s view, under the Dublin rules, refugees should be returned to Greece rather than to Hungary, since they entered the territory of the EU there first. Mr Szijjártó also said that if necessary, Hungary will build further fences to prevent the flow of undocumented migrants.

Hungary has no suitable capacity to take care of asylum seekers whom Germany and other EU member states want to send back here, Imre Czirják comments in Napi Gazdaság. In the pro-government columnist’s calculation, it would cost more than 64 million forints a day to take care of the 15,000 refugees that Germany announced it might like to return to Hungary, and the yearly expenses would add up to 200 billion Forints if 120,000 migrants were sent back from EU member states. In light of the costs and Hungary’s lack of shelters, Czirják deems it a reasonable reaction from the government to suspend the transfers.

Magyar Nemzet’s Szabolcs Szerető thinks that the EU is not able to tackle the migration problem. The conservative commentator contends that in the absence of an EU-wide policy on migration, the actions of member states amount to a zero sum game. Without common norms, states on the borders of the EU are interested in erecting walls or letting migrants through to Western Europe, while core EU members want to return the same refugees to the border countries, Szerető writes.

In Népszabadság, György Vári finds it peculiar that the same government that rejected the idea of European solidarity when EU immigration quotas were proposed and stood up for national sovereignty now asks for help from the EU. The left-liberal pundit finds the EU’s stance no less controversial. While EU member states remained mostly silent when Hungary announced plans to erect a fence on its southern border, they immediately criticized the Orbán government for the suspension of the Dublin Agreement transfers. This, Vári suggests, is a clear indication that EU member states are concerned with migrants only if they have to bear the costs, but do not bother much about the impact of migration on countries on the periphery.

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