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Hungary leader defends shutting out refugees

24 October 2016 10:12

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The Hungarian prime minister says his country must fortify its borders and stand up to the European Union’s plan to welcome and help the refugees flowing into the continent.

In a Sunday address to a large crowd of people commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 1956 revolution against the Soviet rule, Viktor Orban said the EU is now turning into an oppressive force and said “people who love their freedom must save Brussels from Sovietization, from people who want to tell us who we should live with in our countries.”

“We have to block our borders to stop the streaming migration from south. We were brave and we didn’t allow for threat and blackmail,” the premier said.

Orban also criticized the concept of a “United States of Europe,” which would theoretically diminish the influence of individual countries.

“We do not want a European United States in the place of the alliance of free nations,” he said. “We want to be a European nation, not a nationality within Europe.”

A few hundred opposition protesters whistled loudly as Orban spoke, and scuffles broke out in the crowd between his supporters and opponents.


This picture taken on September 16, 2015 shows refugees standing behind a fence at the Hungarian border with Serbia near the town of Horgos. (Photo by AFP)

Hungary opposes a policy that would require all EU states to take in some of the hundreds of thousands of the refugees, mainly from crisis-hit states in the Middle East and North Africa, who arrived in the country last year.

Hungary’s right-wing leader responded to the influx last year by sealing the country’s southern borders with a razor-wire fence and deploying thousands of soldiers and police to stop refugees coming north through the Balkans.

He also held a referendum last month over the EU’s plan to redistribute refugees around the bloc.

Europe has been facing an unprecedented influx of refugees, most of whom are fleeing conflict zones in North Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.

Last year alone, well over a million refugees made their way into the continent. Many blame Western policies for the exodus of refugees from their home countries.

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