The fence between Hungary and Serbia was "practical European solidarity", according to Hungarian president Viktor Orban, He is now calling on Europe to pay at least half the costs.
In a letter to EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called for a payment of 400 million euros for the Hungarian border fence. The European Union (EU) should pay half of the costs for the construction and operation on the southern frontier of Hungary, said Orban’s spokesperson, Janos Lazar, on Thursday before the press in Budapest.
“If we are talking about European solidarity, then we have to talk about border protection and then solidarity must be lived in practice,” said Lazar. “Consequently, the Union must contribute to the costs.” The border protection has cost Hungary €800 million, Quartz reported.
Hungary erected the border fence in autumn 2015 on the borders with Serbia and Croatia. Thereby the government in Budapest quickly halted the influx from the so-called Balkan route. The border fence plays a central symbolic role in demonstrating how migrants could easily be kept out.
Lazar insisted that Hungary was not only protecting itself, but “every citizen of the continent against the flood of illegal immigrants”.
The migration route through South-Eastern Europe was largely blocked as a result of an agreement between the EU and Turkey, but in June this year, the European Commission opened a legal case against Hungary, as well as Poland and the Czech Republic, for refusing to take in asylum seekers.
“Solidarity is not a one-way street,” said a spokesman for the EU Commission on Thursday evening, suggesting that it was not possible to demand support for border security, and at the same time reject joint decisions on migrant distribution.
In September 2015 some EU member states decided to redistribute up to 120 000 migrants holed up in Greece and Italy to other EU countries. However, Hungary and Slovakia consider the decision to be inadmissible. Both countries have so far not received any migrants and are also challenging the decision before the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The EU Commission also pointed out that 6.7 million euros of emergency money had already been made available to Hungary to deal with migration. It has ruled out that fence construction would also be financed, the German daily FAZ reported.
Orban had pointed out earlier: “There is no terrorism here, there is no mass violence, there are no trucks being driven into crowds of people. But please do not forget that this does not mean that such atrocities cannot happen to us Hungarians.”
New cadets were trained to defend the 175km long Hungary-Serbia border fence. The border hunters are tasked with stopping the migrants that cross the fence every night.
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