Deport migrants to camps outside EU: Hungary PM


Budapest (AFP)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Thursday that migrants who have entered the EU illegally should be deported to camps outside the bloc, such as on an island, or on the north African coast.

"Whoever came in illegally should be gathered together and taken out, not to other countries, but outside the EU," Orban said in an interview with the Hungarian website.

Those expelled could submit asylum claims from "large refugee camps" that must be set up, funded, and guarded by the EU outside the bloc's territory, he said, suggesting an island or the north African coastline as potential locations.

"The security of and provision for that territory must be guaranteed by the EU in its own interest," Orban said.

Asylum-seekers should then stay there until an EU country agrees to take them in, he added.

The idea builds on proposals made by Orban in April dubbed "Schengen 2.0" that included increasing EU border defences and handling refugee cases outside of the bloc.

The Hungarian premier, one of the fiercest critics of the EU's handling of the migration crisis, called those proposals a bid to save the bloc's passport-free Schengen zone.

Last September, Hungary erected wire fences on its southern borders to keep out migrants. It has also brought in tough laws to prosecute "illegal border-crossers" and tightened its rules on asylum-seeking.

Some 400,000 migrants passed through Hungary last year bound for western Europe, but the number plummeted after the border was sealed off.

Deportation, he said, was the "one single solution that is good for everyone, for both us who aren't yet in trouble... and countries like Germany, who are in trouble" after taking in a million migrants last year.

"Let's take them out of the EU territory. This is the remedy for all the problems," he said.

Orban's remarks come as Hungary prepares for a referendum on the EU's quota plan for the mandatory relocation of migrants among member states.

The October 2 ballot will ask if Hungarians agree that the EU should be allowed to override national parliaments on the issue. Hungary has not taken in a single migrant under the EU scheme.

Polls show at least 70 percent agree with government's "No" position. To be legally valid, turnout needs to be over 50 percent, however, which is uncertain.