Hungary’s prime minister has called for the EU to “round up” illegal immigrants and deport them to guarded camps “on an island or North Africa”.
The comments are likely to further inflame tensions with other EU governments who say Budapest’s ultra-hard line on migration flouts both international law and fundamental European values.
Viktor Orban made the comments as he lashed out at Angela Merkel’s refugee policy, saying it was unfair for Berlin to try to distribute migrants across EU member states.
“This could be an island, it could be a coastal area in North Africa, but the security and supplies of that area must be guaranteed by the EU in its own interest,” Mr Orban told Origo, a Hungarian news website. “Those who came illegally must be rounded up and shipped out,” he said.
“We must set up large refugee camps outside the EU, with armed security and financial support provided by the Union. Everyone who came illegally must return there. There they can file for asylum,” he added.
It is not the first time Mr Orban has caused controversy with his hardline rhetoric against migrants, whom he has previously called a “poison”. He has ordered the construction of a razor wire fence along Hungary’s southern border, suggested hanging “pigs’ heads” on it, and has said he would refuse to take the share of refugees Hungary is obliged to accept under EU law.
His government is sponsoring a referendum to be held on October 2 on whether Hungary should reject EU quotas to resettle migrants among member states.