Wednesday, 17 June 2015
Hungary says that it will build a fence along its border with Serbia to keep out migrants. Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that officials had been told to prepare a plan for a barrier along the frontier, stretching 175km (109 miles).
He added that Hungary could not afford to wait for the EU to find a solution to immigration. There has been a sharp rise in the number of migrants and asylum seekers entering Hungary. The government said about 54,000 migrants entered the country so far this year, compared to 43,000 people in 2014.
Police registered 10,000 people illegally going over the border in January alone. However, tens of thousands of Hungarians have also been leaving the country.
“Immigration is one of the most serious problems facing the European Union today,” Mr Szijjarto told a press conference on Wednesday. “We are talking about a stretch of border 175 km long, whose physical closure can happen with a four-metre high fence. The interior minister received an instruction to prepare that.” Mr Szijjarto said that the fence will not contravene any of Hungary’s international obligations and that the plan will be prepared by next week. Critics say that that the announcement is the latest anti-immigrant rhetoric from the Hungarian government.
A recent government billboard campaign with messages such as “If you come to Hungary, don’t take the jobs of Hungarians!” has caused controversy – and prompted the UN to prepare its own billboards highlighting refugees who have successfully integrated into Hungarian society. The poster campaign is part of the government’s efforts to win public support for tough new immigration laws that are expected soon.
Hungarian officials have said that the billboards were part of a voter survey on immigration that was sent to eight million Hungarians. The immigration questionnaire asked people whether they agreed that immigrants endangered their livelihoods and spread terrorism.