Hungary to Build Second Border Fence as EU-Turkey Deal Wobbles

  • Hungary must prepare for refugee deal’s collapse, premier Says
  • EU visa liberalization for Turkey is among sticking points

Hungary plans to reinforce its border fence against a new wave of migrants in case of a potential collapse of the European Union’s refugee pact with Turkey, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said.

Hungary will erect a second, “more massive line of defense” on its southern border, where a razor-wire barrier was already established last year to repel migrants, Orban told Kossuth state radio on Friday. He said the government will hire 3,000 more police officers to help guard the frontier.

‘‘This is the time to take care of our security,” Orban said. He added that while he hoped the EU’s deal with Turkey would hold, it’ll be “too late to react if it collapses.”

EU leaders turned to Turkey for help after almost a million migrants, many of them fleeing war-torn Syria, trekked to the continent last year in Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II. Their numbers have slowed to a a trickle after Turkey agreed in March to accept the return of people who had entered via Greece illegally and the EU, among other promises, pledged to offer visa-free travel to Turkish citizens.

The EU has to decide in October whether to allow the visa-free travel. Without visa liberalization, Turkey has said it will walk away from its pledge to stop migrants crossing the Aegean Sea to Greece. Hungary is among the countries opposed to granting the visa-free travel to Turkey and it also rejects taking in refugees directly from Turkish camps and distributing them according to national quotas in the EU.

“We must prepare for a change in Turkish policies and that suddenly hundreds of thousands of migrants will show up at Hungary’s borders,” Orban said.

The Hungarian leader has been among the most vocal opponents of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy for migrants, linking migration to terrorism, building the fence and calling for a zero-immigrant policy. The cabinet has also filed a lawsuit challenging the mandatory distribution of refugees according to national quotas and has called a national referendum for Oct. 2 on the topic.

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