Hungary Slams Migrants who Pass up Multiple 'Safe Countries'


Hungary's top diplomat on Friday said it was "not a fundamental human right" for migrants to pick their destination, during a meeting of EU members concerned about the record refugee crisis.

Foreign ministers and senior officials from 11 European Union nations plus Iceland met at the Latvian resort town of Jurmala to discuss Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War II, after a million migrants arrived on the continent's shores last year.

Many of them are fleeing conflicts in the Middle East, but many are also economic migrants seeking a better life, drawing sharp opposition from Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.

"Please forgive me, but I'm not quite sure whether to consider as a refugee someone who crosses six or seven safe countries to get somewhere," Szijjarto told reporters in Jurmala.

"It's a fundamental human right to have a safe life, but it's not a fundamental human right to choose which country you want to live in."

He added that "unfortunately those migrants who have marched through our country... have broken our regulations, not only national but European ones."

Around 400,000 migrants and refugees passed through Hungary in 2015 before the right-wing government sealed off the southern borders with razor wire and fences in the autumn.

Budapest filed a legal challenge with the European Court of Justice late last year against mandatory resettlement quotas, and authorities also brought in tough new laws punishing illegal entry and vandalism of the fences.

Around 2,200 people have been charged with crimes under the new legislation, the vast majority of whom have been served with expulsion orders.

The other countries present at the Jurmala talks were the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Slovakia and Sweden.

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