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Hungary's Orban blasts EU migrant quotas when borders 'insecure'

EU member Hungary has struggled to cope with large numbers of migrants entering the country.

BUDAPEST: Imposing quotas on how many migrants EU member states should take is futile as long as Europe's outer borders are not secure, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Monday (Sep 7).

"As long as we can't defend Europe's outer borders, it is not worth talking about how many people we can take in," Orban said in a speech to Hungarian diplomats in Budapest.

"The quota system wants to treat the effects before it treats the causes of immigration. The main reason for this is because (the EU) cannot control its outer borders," he said.

EU member Hungary has struggled to cope with large numbers of migrants entering the country.

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told Austrian daily Der Standard on Monday that Hungary had counted 167,000 "illegal immigrants" this year so far, of whom 150,000 had applied for asylum.

On Friday and Saturday Hungary bussed thousands to the border with Austria in what Szijjarto insisted was a "one-off" gesture. Some 16,000 had entered Austria by Monday, almost all on their way to Germany.

RIFTS

Europe's migrant crisis has exposed sharp rifts in the 28-nation bloc, with Germany leading calls to take in many more people fleeing war and upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa.

However, newer eastern member states led by Hungary bluntly oppose European Commission plans for mandatory quotas and a permanent admission mechanism, saying that would only encourage more migrants to come.

Orban, speaking in an interview with Austrian public television late Sunday, again pinned the blame on Austria and Germany for "inviting" migrants to come to Europe.

"As long as Austria and Germany don't say clearly that they will not take any more migrants, then many millions of new immigrants will come to Europe. If we don't change our position and instead keep inviting them, then they will keep coming and we won't be able to protect our borders," Orban told ORF.

The right-wing Orban also said that a "very large" proportion of the migrants - many from Syria - are not in danger and suggested they should remain in camps in Turkey and elsewhere.

"These people are not in danger. After they have fled Syria, Pakistan and other countries they are no longer in danger. Life is not great in Turkish migrant camps but it is safe," he added.

Hungary has put a razor-wire barrier along its southern border with Serbia in an effort to stop migrants passing through. It is also building a four-metre (12-feet) high fence.

Orban said the fence - which has been sharply criticised by other European governments - will ensure that migrants would only be able enter the country through official crossing points.

He said that although the army would also be deployed along the fence, and "anyone who does manage to cross it will be arrested and face legal consequences. No gunfire will be necessary," he said.