“If Greece is incapable of protecting its own borders then the EU must be given the right to protect the country’s borders with concrete security forces and border surveillance”, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told reporters outside Parliament today following a meeting with Manfred Weber, leader of the European People’s Party (EPP) Group in the European Parliament. Mr. Weber said he supports the fact that the EU must intervene to protect its external borders if a country’s national authorities have failed to do so.

If Greece doesn’t protect its borders, “we must protect them”, the Prime Minister explained, adding that the legal framework for doing so does not currently exist and so must be quickly established; this is the first and most important task that he will recommend to his European colleagues.

This initiative is part of a five-point proposal to handle the current situation in Europe, and which he would present at a later date, he noted. According to Prime Minister Orbán, the fact that Greece is not upholding the Schengen Regulations does not give Hungary the right to also ignore the stipulations of the Schengen Agreement.

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“Accordingly, despite the obvious legal infringements of the Greeks (…) we shall continue to strive to adhere to the Schengen Regulations in the upcoming period” he emphasised, restressing that “Hungary stands on a firm foundation of European values and law, and will continue to do so”. “The Schengen ideal must be maintained and must assure the suitable protection of the European Union’s external borders”, Manfred Weber said.

The People’s Party politician also spoke about the fact that Hungary is striving to adhere to European regulations on border security and registering immigrants. “It must be explained to refugees that they do not have the right to choose a place of residence in Europe at will and must cooperate with the authorities”, he declared, adding that “it is important to preserve everyone’s dignity”.

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Prime Minister Orbán also told reporters that during his meeting with Mr. Weber he had called for urgent European action to handle the immigration crisis, and said that in his view decisions must be made much more rapidly. “The issue of migration is among the most fundamental and important questions for every nation”, the Prime Minister declared, who for this reason firmly believes that European-level decisions cannot be made without involving democratically elected national leaders, the EU heads of government.

“We are not questioning the European Commission’s right to create universally applicable new legislation with the backing of the European Parliament, but the EC cannot do away with the current political consensus according to which work on new legislation within the EU cannot begin without the agreement of member heads of government”, he said.

“The President of the Commission is preparing to break this consensus, which could have far-reaching consequences for the internal life of the European Union in future”, Mr. Orbán pointed out. In reply to a question from the press, the Prime Minister said that “recent days have seen a true rebellion among illegal immigrants who are ‘revolting against the Hungarian legal system’ and are refusing to cooperate with the Hungarian authorities, and have even been throwing things at them and attacking them”.

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“Compared to the fact that we are facing a rebellion by illegal immigrants, the police have been doing an excellent job without the use of force”, he said, expressing his thanks to police once again. With relation to the new regulations that are due to come into force on 15 September, he said “The Hungarian authorities cannot be lenient when it comes to illegal border crossing”, adding that people who plan to cross the border illegally are receiving continuous information about this.

“After mid-September, people who cross the border illegally must be arrested immediately”, he said, calling on immigrants to spare themselves and their families from such criminal action. Citing international law, the Prime Minister also spoke about the fact that migrants at the border will be asked to certify that they have already submitted their requests for asylum in Serbia.

“According to Hungarian law, Serbia is a so-called safe third country and Hungary will only accept refugees from a safe country if they have already submitted their asylum requests there and it is clear that the Serbian authorities have not accepted the request or processed it fairly”, he explained. Manfred Weber emphasised that Hungary is striving to conform to EU law and Viktor Orbán was absolutely right to indicate that protecting the European Union’s external borders in this instance was primarily the responsibility of Greece.

“Hungary is also doing everything possible to fulfil its responsibilities with regard to registering immigrants, meaning it is trying to register everyone”, he said, adding that “Hungary is doing much better that Greece or Italy when it comes to upholding EU regulations”. The politician also stressed that the EU wishes to help Hungary.

Mr. Weber noted that Jean-Claude Juncker’s proposals were balanced from a European People’s Party perspective, and said that protecting Europe’s borders and providing shelter to the persecuted were both important goals. Mr. Weber said that in his opinion Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s comments were useful elements of the European debate, especially with regard to the importance of border protection.

(Prime Minister's Office)