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Orban to fight on after EU ruling on migrants

September 8, 2017

The "real battle" over relocating migrants is just the beginning, Hungarian Prime Minister Orban said after the European Court of Justice backed Brussel's refugee quotas. His government will continue to reject migrants.

Viktor Orban, Hungarian prime minister
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Hoppe

Hungary will acknowledge the verdict and respect the rule of law as an EU member, Orban said on Friday, commenting on the ruling by the European Court of Justice earlier this week that upheld the EU's migrant relocation scheme. However, he said that the ruling was "not a reason to change an immigration policy that rejects migrants."

"The court's ruling does not require Hungary to do anything", he told Hungarian public radio.

In the Wednesday ruling, the Luxembourg-based court dismissed an appeal filed by Hungary and Slovakia, reaffirming the EU's right to order individual members to take in refugees. Under the policy, Hungary is required to take in 1,294 refugees and Slovakia 902. The two countries could now face fines if they refuse to abide by the EU-wide relocation quota system.

On Friday, Orban pledged to fight on with political means and prompt the EU to revise its 2015 quotas.

The "real battle (against Brussels) is just beginning," he added.

During the peak of the immigrant crisis in 2015, the right-wing leader enforced a series of anti-immigrant policies, culminating with a razor-wire fence to block the influx of migrants traveling along the Balkan route. Orban has also called immigrants "poison" and a "Trojan horse of terrorism."

Read more: The EU migrant quota scheme - what you need to know

Orban-Juncker spat

Last week, Orban wrote to EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and asked Brussels to refund half of the €800 million ($950 million) that Hungary allegedly spent on securing its borders.

Juncker dismissed the request, slamming Hungary for demanding money while at the same time refusing the relocation scheme.

"Solidarity is not an à-la-carte dish," Juncker said in a letter to Orban on Thursday.

In his response, Orban said that Juncker's view of solidarity would transform Hungary into an immigrant country, against the will of the people. He insisted that Hungary is not an immigrant country.

"In my view, this is not solidarity, this is violence," the Hungarian prime minister said.

Orban also said that Hungary did not have a "colonial legacy" unlike many Western European nations.

"These major member states have become immigrant countries, due to the obligations stemming from their colonial legacy," the nationalist leader claimed. "Hungary on the other hand... does not want to become an immigrant country and cannot accept being forced to change this."

dj/ng (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)