By Jenilyn Brhel
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

BUDAPEST, Hungary – After the European Union on September 6th dismissed Hungary and Slovakia’s challenge against mandatory migrant quotas, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban vowed to continue fighting.

Serbian Migrants Outside Hungarian Border Fence, 2015. Photo Courtesy of The New York Times.

The ruling issued by the EU reaffirms the requirement that EU members provide refuge for a specified share of asylum-seekers reaching Europe. Under the plan, Syrian, Iraqi and Eritrean refugees escaping violence in the Middle East and Africa are to be spread among the 28 member states of the EU. Hungary is required to take in 1,294 of these refugees. If they do not abide by the ruling, the EU has the right to impose fines.

The Mediterranean migrant crisis of 2015 prompted the EU to enact mandatory quotas for those seeking asylum. The initial purpose of the quotas was to ease the burden on Italy and Greece, as these countries were at the time being inundated. The number of migrants has since declined, which has made noncompliance easier for member-states opposed to the quota.

Prime Minister Orban maintains that Hungary is under no obligation to let anyone in.  “These countries with colonial legacy, which have become immigrant countries by now, want to impose on us Central Europeans their own logic … but Hungary does not want to become an immigrant country,” Orban said.

During the height of the migrant crisis, Budapest installed border fences and hired border police to patrol the fences to keep migrants out. Orban last month requested reimbursement funds from the EU for these measures. He has since been chided by the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for this request and for failing to participate in the quota scheme.

This is not the first time that Hungary has been criticized. In July 2016, Human Rights Watch cited Hungary’s treatment of detained refugees and migrants as “breaking all the rules of asylum seekers.”

Orban believes that enforcement of the quota scheme “raises a very serious question of principles: whether we are an alliance of European free nations with the Commission representing our joint interests, or a European empire which has its center in Brussels and which can issue orders.”

This opposition is in contrast to Hungary’s position in 1989, when it allowed those under communist-ruled Eastern Europe to pass freely through its borders. At that time, Hungary declared that it was following “generally accepted international principles of human rights and humanitarian consideration.”

Since the current compulsory quota scheme was enacted, Hungary has not accepted a single refugee.

For more information, please see:

Aljazeera – Hungary to Fight EU Migrant Quotas Despite Setback – 8 September 2017

Anadolu Agency – Hungary Declares ‘Political Fight’ Over EU Ruling – 8 September 2017

Reuters – Hungarian PM Orban Says Will Fight After EU Ruling on Migrant Quota – 8 September 2017

The New York Times – Hungary is Making Europe’s Migrant Crisis Worse – 8 September 2017

The Washington Post –  Hungary and Slovakia Challenged Europe’s Refugee Scheme. They Just Lost Badly. – 8 September 2017

The New York Times – E.U. Countries Must Accept Their Share of Migrants, Court Rules – 6 September 2017

Author: Impunity Watch Archive