Hungary to hold referendum on refugee quota
Hungary will hold a referendum on EU plans to create a system of mandatory quotas for refugees, an initiative that Hungary's government has rejected. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has used harsh anti-refugee rhetoric since the refugee crisis escalated last year and gained notoriety for erecting a steel fence along Hungary's southern border. He said the plebiscite would be a major test of European Democracy.
Due to its geographical location, Hungary is one of the main transit countries of irregular migration on land towards other countries of the European Union. Eastern and south-eastern migration routes cross the territory of Hungary. The Western Balkan route via Turkey-Greece-Macedonia-Serbia and since the construction of fence along Serbian-Hungarian border to Croatia, then via Hungary to other EU countries is the prominent one.
Hungary is the second country behind Greece, in number of the apprehended irregular migrants at its external borders with a 341,934 irregular border crossings from 1 January to 9 October 2015.
In the first half of 2015, the number of Syians (57,175) undertaking irregular crossings to Hungary significantly increased; so they become the main category followed by Afghans (41,455) and Kosovars (23, 388). The conflict in Syria continues to be the biggest driver of the migration. The ongoing violence in Afghanistan, abuses in Eritrea, and poverty in Kosovo are among other causes of emigration.
Addressing the European Union in Brussels on 3 Sep, Hungary's PM Viktor Orban attacked EU's "misguided" immigration policy and said the migrant crisis facing Europe is a "German problem" since Germany is where those arriving in the EU "would like to go" .
The border between Hungary and Serbia is 175 km long. In June, the Hungarian cabinet approved construction of a 4-meter high barrier whose construction began in July. The construction was completed and the Serbian border was sealed by 14 September 2015. The immediate impact of the fence was to block entry into Hungary to migrants unwilling to apply for refugee status in Hungary.
EU-Turkey deal looks to step up cooperation on support of Syrians in a coordinated effort. On 15 Oct, the leaders agreed to speed up visa liberalisation talks for Turks if Turkey stems the influx and to "re-energise" talks on it joining the EU.
EU states backed an action plan with Turkey, which it is hoped will ease the flow of migrants to Europe. Just hours afte EU announced the deal, Turkey said it was just a draft; no deal was done yet. The deal looked shaky after Turkey said EU offered too little money and mocked Europe's efforts to tackle the refugee crisis.
In its latest bid to stem the flow of migrants, Hungary sealed its border with Croatia. Hungarian foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto said his country resorted to the action for two reasons. First, it finally completed a razor-wire fence along the 216-mile border with Croatia and importantly because, the European Union is yet to come up with a comprehensive plan to deal with immigrant crisis.