No chance for single EU migration policy: Hungarian PM


Warsaw (AFP)

Hungary's populist prime minister said Monday he sees no chance for a single EU-wide migration policy, just days after the bloc launched legal action against Budapest for refusing refugees under a controversial solidarity plan.

"To say that there will be one integrated, single European migration policy, I do have my doubts and I do not see any chance for this," Viktor Orban told the Benelux and Visegrad group premiers meeting in Warsaw ahead of an EU summit in Brussels later this week.

"Hungary is open to any negotiations to this end but we would like to continue to remain realists," the Hungarian PM added.

The EU launched legal action last week against Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic for refusing to participate in relocating 160,000 refugees under a 2015 plan set up when more than one million people landed on Europe's shores, mainly in Italy and Greece.

Brussels had set a June deadline for Warsaw and Budapest to start accepting mainly Syrian, Eritrean and Iraq asylum seekers. Prague has also come under pressure after effectively dropping out of the relocation plan.

Orban argued Monday that his government's rejection of refugees and migrants was intended to preserve the central European country's identity.

"Let us not create a European migration policy -- and this is the Hungarian position -- as a result of which we will no longer be the kind of people we are now," Orban said.

"We would like to preserve what we are today, the kind of people that we are today."

European sources have said some EU countries have been setting unacceptable conditions by refusing Muslims, black people or large families, with Eastern European states the worst for discriminating on religious or racial grounds.

They have also blamed the delays in implementing the EU relocation programme on governments trying to screen jihadists in the wake of terror attacks, a lack of housing and education for asylum seekers, and other logistical problems.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel shot back at Orban, insisting that the principle of EU "solidarity isn't flexible."

"If we play the game where everyone has their own individual definition of solidarity, it's the end of the European Union. Solidarity is the basis of the European project," said Bettel at the joint press conference of seven premiers in Warsaw.

Heads of government from Benelux states Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg as well as Visegrad group nations including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia met for multilateral talks in Warsaw ahead of a key EU summit in Brussels on Thursday focused on Brexit.