Hungary is submitting a proposal to the EU that would allow for all asylum seekers to be detained and kept in special camps until their applications are reviewed.
According to the Hungarian government’s chief spokesman Zoltán Kovács: “No migrants – not even those who have already issued their request for asylum – will be able to move freely until there is a primary legal decision on whether they are entitled to political asylum, refugee status or anything else – so they are not entitled to move freely in the country”
At a briefing in London, Kovács said anyone seeking asylum through Hungary would be kept in “shelters” for the whole period of their application, though they would be free to go back to their own country at any point.
These camps will not be “detention centers, although the asylum seekers won’t be able to move freely, he said, noting “we do not have a proper term yet for it – that is the challenge task to formulate. It is not about detention, it is about not giving the same opportunity for them as provided to European citizens. Do not be mistaken. There is a systematic abuse of that within Europe.”
According to Kovács, “the name of the game today is illegal migration.” “Everybody who comes to the EU as a migrant basically comes here illegally,” he stated.
“If we maintain the existing regime, we are not able to control what is happening at the borders or within Europe,” he added.
Over the weekend, authorities arrested some 100 asylum seekers who were in Hungary illegally, Kovács said.
According to the Hungarian government spokesman, Budapest “will use all means at our disposal to check identities and have a very thorough investigation into each and every case.”
“In line with international law, we do not believe just because someone comes from Syria and there is a civil war, it should entitle groups of people to come to the European Union, especially as they will have crossed many safe countries on the way,” he stressed.
Kovács added that between 6,000 and 8,000 border guards have been deployed “to apprehend those coming through the fence” on Hungary’s borders with Serbia and Croatia that was built in 2015 to prevent immigrants from entering illegally. In 2016, the government repeatedly said that it was planning to build another fence on the border with Romania.
The Hungarian government has been a stubborn opponent of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who insists that EU states are obliged to share the burden of taking in refugees who have arrived in Europe during the ongoing migrant crisis.
Hungary’s PM, Viktor Orban, has repeatedly spoken out against taking in asylum seekers, saying that Muslim migrants from the Middle East and North Africa pose a security risk to mainly Christian Hungary.
According to Orban, accepting or rejecting migrants is a matter of national sovereignty. Hungary lies on the so-called ‘Balkan route’ into Europe through Serbia, which has also felt the strain of being used as a gateway.
Orban also opposes EU regulations imposing migrant quotas. He said in October that his country is ready to sue the European Commission over mandatory refugee resettlement quotas, warning that if Brussels does not take the issue off the table, Budapest will wage “a big battle” and initiate “a serious legal debate.”
Hungary was criticized in an Amnesty International report from October 2016 that claimed Orban’s government was promoting xenophobia and mistreating refugees.