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Agreement reached on closure of borders

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


The times are over when one can travel on the Western Balkan routes without controls. EU leaders have decided that the routes of people smugglers must be closed, which means that order must also be restored at the borders, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told journalists in Brussels after the summit of the leaders of the European Union and Turkey in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

According to Mr Orbán, the Hungarian-Austrian-Slovenian-Croatian action has been successful, as the text of the EU agreement approved in Brussels means that an era has come to an end, and from now on the migration routes leading through the Western Balkans are closed.

The agreement seeks to destroy the business model of people smugglers, which means that “even if they make agreements with the migrants, they will not be able to deliver on their promises because we shall not allow the migrants to march through the Balkans”, the Prime Minister said. This will cause a difficult situation in Greece, as many people have been, and will be, stuck there. Therefore, the leaders of EU Member States have agreed to help Greece share the increased burdens.

Mr Orbán also told the press that no agreement has been reached with the Turks, as they presented a proposal which concerns four very difficult issues. The heads of EU Member States took the view that these issues are too difficult for them to say yes or no to in a single afternoon. They therefore authorised Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, to engage in negotiations with Turkey regarding the proposal which was tabled at the meeting held on Monday.

Mr Orbán said that they have resolved upon a few principles which may be regarded as the starting points of the negotiations. The leaders of the Member States may consult with respect to the outcome of the negotiations at the EU summit to be held next week.

In answer to a journalist’s question regarding the details of the agreement with Turkey, Mr Orbán said that Hungary is clearly opposed to the reference in the text of the EU-Turkey agreement, according to which people should be transported from Turkey to Europe. Hungary, together with Slovakia, issued a statement to the effect that they are unable to support the content of the text. The reason for this is that they have taken legal action against the EU’s earlier decision relating to the relocation of migrants.

Hungary continues to disagree with the sole method approved earlier with respect to the compulsory resettlement quotas either, and this is why they supported the Polish motion, which lays down that no agreement should be concluded with the Turks which can result in the imposition of further obligations, beyond the relocation and resettlement quotas agreed earlier, Mr Orbán said.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)

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