Hungary is 'not far from shooting refugees' and should be excluded from EU, says Luxembourg foreign minister

'We cannot accept that the basic values of the European Union are being so seriously breached'

Samuel Osborne@SamuelOsborne93
Tuesday 13 September 2016 10:58
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Refugees stand behind a fence at the Hungarian border with Serbia near the town of Horgos
Refugees stand behind a fence at the Hungarian border with Serbia near the town of Horgos

Hungary should be excluded from the European Union because of its tough stance on refugees, Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn has said.

Budapest's policies constitute a "massive violation" of the EU's fundamental values, he said.

"We cannot accept that the basic values of the European Union are being so seriously breached," Mr Asselborn told Germany's Die Welt newspaper.

He added: "Anyone, like Hungary, who builds fences against war refugees or breaches press freedom and the independence of the justice system should be temporarily, or if needed forever, excluded from the EU."

Viktor Orban's government has angered many EU countries with its tough rhetoric on refugees, which he described as a "poison", and by building a razor wire along the country's southern border to block the so-called Balkan route.

He has also urged Hungarians to vote in a referendum next month against future EU quotas stipulating how many refugees each country should take.

The EU could not tolerate such behaviour, and exclusion was "the only possibility to preserve the integrity and values of the European Union," Mr Asselborn said, adding it would be helpful to change the rules to allow a county to be suspended without unanimous agreement.

Mr Asselborn's comments come days before 27 EU leaders meet in Bratislava to discuss the bloc's future.

He said humans fleeing from war were being treated almost worse than wild animals.

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"The fence that Hungary is building to keep out refugees is getting longer, higher and more dangerous," he said. "Hungary is not far from issuing an order to shoot refugees."

In response, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called Mr Asselborn "a frivolous figure".

"He wants to exclude Hungary from the EU but he has long excluded himself from among the politicians who can be taken seriously," Mr Szijjarto said in a statement, accusing Mr Asselborn of "working tirelessly to demolish European security and culture".

Mr Szijjarto said the referendum would give Hungarians the opportunity to voice their opinion about "illegal immigrants, Brussels' quota package and the Jean Asselborn-type figures".

Additional reporting by agencies

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