“The number of refugees arriving in Europe last autumn increased significantly following Germany’s announcement on receiving them and so Hungary is not responsible for the situation”, Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács said at the Hungarian Embassy on Monday in Vienna at a background discussion with representatives of the Austrian and other foreign media.

Mr. Kovács was speaking in reaction to claims by German tabloid Bild that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán knowingly mislead the German and Austrian chancellors last September with relation to the immigration situation. The article also stated that German government circles had expected the arrived of a few thousand refugees and that according to the opinion of Austrian government circles the Hungarian Prime Minister had consciously tried to portray the number of refugees as fewer than in reality.

“There is no point in starting a war of numbers, because we can begin digging deeper into the complicated details, for instance with regard to when Hungary first indicated the magnitude of the wave of refugees and what information the various authorities had at their disposal, but in fact all we have to do it to take a look at the numbers prior to and following the ‘easily misinterpreted’ German announcement”, Mr. Kovács said. “And this says everything about exactly where responsibility should be sought, and that state is not Hungary”, the Government Spokesperson emphasised.

According to Mr. Kovács, Hungary adhered to the framework provided by EU regulations both before and after building tis border security fence. The real dividing line is between those who do their best to conform to these regulations and those who, based on interest, public opinion and political approach, occasionally disregard and infringe them.

“Hungary is concentrating on border protection and only allows entry to those who are eligible to do so, otherwise the 2015 situation will be repeated”, Mr. Kovács declared at the background discussion, where he also spoke about the fact that the forced return of illegal immigrants does not work, since thousands of refugees will remain in Europe.

In reply to a question, Mr Kovács said with relation to criticism of Hungary’s refugee policy by the new Austrian Chancellor, Christian Kern: “It is unfortunate that for the moment there is no sign that the path represented by the Chancellor does not differ from the statements of his resigned predecessor, Werner Faymann”.

“There is no need to behave disrespectfully with each other”, the Government Spokesperson said.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)