Hungary slams ‘hu­mil­i­at­ing’ EU pol­icy on mi­grants

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Hungary has called for more money from the Euro­pean Union to han­dle a ris­ing tide of mi­grants, as a new wave hit its south­ern bor­der and fur­ther ex­posed the cracks in EU pol­icy to­wards the worst refugee cri­sis since World War Two, ac­cord­ing to the news and pol­icy site EurAc­tiv.

More than 100,000 mi­grants, many of them refugees from con­flicts in the Mid­dle East and Africa, have en­tered Hungary, part of Europe’s Schen­gen zone of pass­port-free travel, this year en route to the more af­flu­ent coun­tries of western and north­ern Europe.

The in­flux ticked up on Mon­day to its high­est daily rate this year - 2,093 - as many race to beat a fence that Hungary is build­ing on its 175-km bor­der with Ser­bia to keep them out.

A Reuters re­porter was quoted as see­ing hun­dreds stream un­hin­dered into Hungary from Ser­bia, part of a larger move­ment in re­cent weeks whisked north by boat and bus as cash-strapped gov­ern­ments in Greece, FYROM and Ser­bia try to move them on as fast as they can.

A record 50,000, many of them Syr­i­ans, reached Greek shores by boat from Tur­key in July alone. Greece, em­broiled in a de­bil­i­tat­ing eco­nomic cri­sis, is fer­ry­ing them from over­whelmed is­lands to the main­land, from where they head north to Skopje and points be­yond.

FYROM tried to keep them out last week with ra­zor-wire and stun grenades, but gave up in the face of huge and de­ter­mined crowds. The United Na­tions refugee agency, UNHCR, said it ex­pected the in­flux to con­tinue at a rate of 3,000 per day for months. Some 8,000 were es­ti­mated to be in Ser­bia, many spend­ing the night in city parks.

Bel­grade’s Lasta bus com­pany said it in­creased its daily de­par­tures to the north­ern town of Subot­ica from seven to 24. “In the com­ing days we may ex­pect an in­crease,” the com­pany said.




rolling out a low, barbed-wire bar­rier along the bor­der with Ser­bia, while con­struc­tion crews race to com­plete a more sub­stan­tial 3.5-me­tre-high fence.

Crit­ics point out that the vast ma­jor­ity of mi­grants who en­ter Hungary do not linger, de­ter­mined to reach the likes of Aus­tria, Ger­many and Swe­den where they join up with rel­a­tives and friends in search of work and se­cu­rity.

But the Hun­gar­ian gov­ern­ment un­der right-wing Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Or­ban has taken a harder line than other EU states, say­ing such an in­flux car­ries risks of ter­ror­ism, crime and un­em­ploy­ment. He said the EU has failed to of­fer a co­her­ent so­lu­tion, and also faces pres­sure at home from far-right op­po­nents.

Or­ban’s chief of staff, Janos Lazar, said Hungary should be given more money by the EU. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has pledged 8 mln eu­ros in aid and var­i­ous other mea­sures. But Lazar told the daily Mag­yar Hir­lap news­pa­per it was not enough.

“The Euro­pean Union dis­trib­utes bor­der pro­tec­tion funds in a hu­mil­i­at­ing way. Old mem­ber states have nicked the money from new mem­bers,” he was quoted as say­ing.

“If we do not take mean­ing­ful steps, we will be­come a lifeboat that sinks be­neath the weight of those cling­ing onto it,” Lazar said.

Not since the wars of Yu­goslavia’s col­lapse in the 1990s has the cash-strapped western Balkans seen such large move­ments of peo­ple. Ger­many said it ex­pects a record 800,000 asy­lum-seek­ers to ar­rive this year, in a cri­sis over­whelm­ing author­i­ties in Europe from the Greek is­lands to the French port of Calais.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has made clear its dis­ap­proval of the Hun­gar­ian fence, with its Cold War echoes in ex-Com­mu­nist eastern Europe, but Hungary faces no sanc­tion for build­ing it.

On Mon­day, Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent JeanClaude Juncker crit­i­cised bick­er­ing EU gov­ern­ments for “fin­ger point­ing” in­stead of con­fronting the mi­grant cri­sis with vi­able mea­sures.

His deputy, Frans Tim­mer­mans, told Europe 1 ra­dio on Tues­day that “Europe has failed. Europe has to get mov­ing.”

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