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Hungary’s Orban Wants Army to Block Immigration into Europe

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The European Union should protect its borders against immigration using military force because it doesn’t need new migrants, Hungary’s prime minister said the day after EU leaders agreed to increase funding to keep migrants from dying while trying to cross the Mediterranean.

The leaders of the 28-nation EU agreed in Brussels on Thursday to triple funding for patrols in the Mediterranean after hundreds of people drowned in one of the deadliest migrant shipwrecks on the Mediterranean in recent days.

 “Europe’s borders must be protected. We cannot be like a piece of cheese with holes in it so that they [immigrants] can be crossing in and out. Serious police and military steps must be taken and also steps that they would remain at home,” Mr. Orban said in an interview on state radio on Friday.

An EU summit planned for July to discuss migration matters should tackle basic issues such as whether Europe needs immigrants at all, he said.

 “In my opinion, it doesn’t. But there are other [EU] countries that are saying it does,” Mr. Orban said.

Hungary’s governing Fidesz party said in February it wants to “close the country’s borders” to economic immigrants from outside the EU because of a spike in their number.

The number of people seeking asylum in Hungary neared 40,000 in the first four months of this year, about the same figure as in the whole of last year, government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said on Friday. That compares to Hungary’s total population of a little below 10 million.

Countries in the bloc which see immigration as necessary believe they can’t reverse unfavorable population trends with social policy, which is why they want to import labor under regulated conditions, Mr. Orban said. He also said that Europe’s Roma population, estimated at up to 12 million, could be tapped as additional labor force.

Hungary is worried that the migrants, most of whom enter Hungary en route to the more developed countries of Western Europe, will choose to stay in the country.

Illegal immigration is “not a major issue” as long as migrants come here in transition, “but we shouldn’t suppose that the Germans and the Austrians will allow without end that these illegal immigrants may enter [their borders] freely, taking jobs before the [local] people who are already struggling with unemployment, exploit the social support systems and undermine public safety since they arrive without control,” Mr. Orban said.

 “The German and Austrian societies are already seething over this issue and new regulations are underway that won’t allow them to move on. Then we will be stuck with them,” he added.

The Hungarian government will start to send out some eight million letters to Hungarians May 1 to seek their opinion about illegal immigration, Mr. Kovacs said Friday.

Questions the government will pose to the voting-age population include whether illegal immigrants should be taken into custody and deported as well as required to work during their stay to cover the expenses they incur for the state.

Those suggested measures would go against the EU regulations in force at present. But the current EU rules on immigrants are “silly, they hamstring the member states, posing an obstacle rather than providing support,” Mr. Orban said.

It would be better if the member states could decide themselves how they want to curb the waves of illegal immigration, he added.

“If we receive that opportunity, we shall handle our immigration issues ourselves,” Mr. Orban said.

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