France slams Hungary for building razor-wire fence

French foreign minister harshly criticise Hungary for building 175 kilometre fence with Serbia to obstruct refugees’ journey to better life in EU amid new talks

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Hungarian soldiers adjust the razor wire on a fence near the town of Asotthalom, Hungary, August 30, 2015.

The French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Monday slammed Hungary for building a 175 kilometre long razor-wire fence around its borders with Serbia to prevent the refugees arriving from war-torn countries - mainly Syria - to continue further into Europe ahead of emergency talks scheduled on Sept. 14.

Deep divisions continue to take a toll on the EU as France, Britian and Germany push southern European countries; like Greece, Hungary and Italy, to handle the heavy influx of refugees in a better manner.

In an interview with French radio on Sunday, Fabius said the measures taken were "extremely harsh. Hungary is part of Europe, which has values, and we do not respect those values by putting up fences that we wouldn't even use for animals."

He also criticised the attitude of "a certain number of European countries, particularly in the east" who oppose the quota plan for the distribution of refugees across EU member states as "scandalous," without targeting any countries in particular.

Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto later on Sunday lashed out at Fabius, accusing him of "shocking and groundless judgements," adding that the French embassy representative will be summoned over Fabius' remarks.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, on the other hand, requested once again for a much fairer distribution of refugees among the 28 EU member states, saying  "Europe needs to stop being moved and start moving." 

The interior ministers of France, UK, and Germany, stressed the importance of establishing "hot spots" in Greece and Italy by the end of the year to ensure refugees are fingerprinted and registered, so the authorities can be able to quickly identify those in need of immediate protection.

Since Hungary is the gateway to the EU from Eastern Europe, migrants who reach the country are bound for more prosperous EU countries such as Germany and Sweden, on the premise of Europe's passport-free Schengen system.

Al Jazeera's Budapest correspondent Andrew Simmons reported that hundreds of refugees are currently stranded in the capital with nowhere to go.

"Hungary's government is ignoring all criticism of how it's handling this crisis. It stands accused of stripping away the rights of refugees and it is preparing a raft of new legislation which could mean thousands of refugees are sent back to Serbia.”

Many refugees stated that their journey to Serbia had almost faced no major obstacles, but they fear what awaits them at the Hungarian border.

"Other people who went ahead of us were told by Hungarian officials that if they didn't give a fingerprint, they would be hit and thrown in jail. Now we are scared to go to Hungary," said Lokman, a Syrian refugee.

Hungary has received this year almost 150,000 migrants - 50,000 of whom arrived this month alone - many of them coming through Serbia.

Budapest is further tightening measures on border crossings by refugees, imposing harsh laws and allocating more than 2,000 so-called "border hunter" patrols to track “trespassers” by September.

TRTWorld and agencies