Orban: Hungary to keep migrants away, premier says

Hungary will never again allow migrants to pass across its territory, nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Friday.

"The [migration] route can go any way it wants, but it is certain that it will not go through Hungary," he said in his weekly radio interview.

Hungary was a part of the so-called Balkan migration route, from Turkey, across the Aegean, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia, until Orban's cabinet sealed its border, first with Serbia in September then with Croatia a month later.

The measure was backed by a 175-kilometre fence, topped with razor wire, along the border with Serbia and a fence along parts of the border with Croatia. Orban said that his government is prepared to extend the fence to Romania as well.

Orban, who has maintained an openly hostile stance to migrants, especially Muslims, made the latest statement in response to speculation that migrants may somehow be diverted to Romania and then again to Hungary.

That diverted the flow of migrants, mostly refugees from Syria, would then move on to Croatia and eventually Slovenia, with most of the people hoping to reach Germany and other wealthy European countries to seek asylum there.

Countries along the route are trying to limit the flow, with Austria saying this week that it will receive only 37,500 this year - 50,000 fewer than in 2015 - and a total of 127,500 by 2019.

Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia responded by allowing passage across their soil only to those who declare their intent to seek asylum in Austria and Germany.

At least 850,000 people passed along the Balkan route in 2015. Though numbers have diminished due to the winter weather, around 2,000 people have crossed Balkan borders every day since the start of 2016.

Last update: Fri, 22/01/2016 - 12:09

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