Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó says the country cannot be blackmailed, reports Hungarian news site Index.hu.
Szijjártó made the statement Wednesday during a Visegrád Four press conference in Prague. According to the minister, it is blackmail for the European Commission to propose that countries not pulling their weight in terms of providing asylum to refugees (Hungary) be required to contribute EUR 250,000 per refugee to the Member State that takes in refugees in their place.
“This is the kind of blackmail that leads nowhere,” he told the press.
“Timmermans has just admitted that Brussels wants to force the resettlement of refugees,” said the feisty foreign minister of European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans. “Forced resettlement is unacceptable. Only Hungarians can decide – not Brussels – who they want to let in the country.”
According to Index.hu, representatives of all the V4 countries at the Prague talks – Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic – rejected the Commission’s proposal.
So what is this proposal by the European Commission?
The proposal, which was made public by the Commission on Wednesday, is an attempt by the EU’s executive branch to move “towards a sustainable and fair Common European Asylum System.”
In short, the Commission wants to turn the EU’s thus far lacking response to the refugee crisis into something that addresses the weaknesses of the failed Dublin system, while also helping to address Member States disproportionately affected by the crisis.
According to the Commission, the proposal would
- reform the Dublin system to include new elements that are fairer and based on solidarity, take into account resettlement efforts, become more efficient, discourage abuse and secondary movements, and protect asylum seekers’ best interests;
- reinforce the Eurodac system (a big EU database of asylum seekers); and
- establish a European Union Agency for Asylum to operate the reference key in order to apply the fairness mechanism under the new Dublin system, ensure a greater convergence in the assessment of applications for international protection across the Union, strengthen the practical cooperation and information exchange between Member States, and promote EU law and operational standards regarding asylum procedures, reception conditions and protection needs.
Is Hungary meeting its international obligations in the refugee crisis? Absolutely not.
We recently spoke to Lydia Gall of Human Rights Watch about this very subject. Our discussion can be watched by clicking on the video link below.