Hungary Suspends Acceptance of Asylum Seekers

Hungary is taking steps to make it difficult for asylum seekers to claim asylum in their Country. So far this year nearly 72,000 asylum seekers have reached Hungary via the border with Serbia. Most asylum seekers do not stay in Hungary. They leave for wealthier Western European Countries in the EU such as Germany. This is relatively easy to do as Hungary is in the Schengen zone which allows free movement in 26 European Countries.

Western European Countries wish to return the asylum seekers to Hungary. However, Hungary has suspended its acceptance of asylum seekers being returned by other EU nations. In accordance with EU law, asylum seekers are being sent back to Hungary because they are required to apply for asylum in the first EU member country they enter.

However, Hungarian officials claim that many of the asylum seekers being returned to their country first arrived in Europe's border-free Schengen zone in Greece, but they're not being processed there.

Now, the Hungarian government has told 14 EU member states that it will be blocking the return of asylum seekers, indefinitely. Government spokesperson, Zoltan Kovacs, told the Austrian media: "The suspension is in effect to protect Hungarian interests. We all want a European solution, but Hungary and its population come first."

EU discussions on new refugee policy

EU leaders have recently held discussions about a new system to distribute asylum seekers equally across EU member states, in order they say to better handle the influx of migrants. EU officials recognise that countries such as Hungary, Italy and Spain have become transit hotspots for asylum seekers arriving from Syria, Afghanistan and other nations.

However, Hungary could be in breach of the EU's refugee policy by refusing to accept returned asylum seekers. The "Dublin III regulation" says that migrants should apply for asylum in the EU country where they first arrived. Should they move on to a new Country, they could be sent back to the EU Country where they first entered.

A Hungarian government official said: "Hungary is receiving a share of asylum seekers beyond the country's means. Hungarian authorities are working to increase the necessary capacity, however, this requires time."

Wall to keep out immigrants

On June 24, the Hungarian government decided to construct a four-metre (13 foot) high wall, stretching along the country's 110-mile border with Serbia - a country that's not a member of the European Union - to prevent the entry of illegal immigrants.

Hungary's foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, said: "There's no other efficient way for us to prevent illegal immigration across our borders that's why a fence is being built. The barrier is only temporary."

Responding to Hungary's actions, the German government said: "Despite the pressures facing Hungary in the refugee crisis, responsibilities in the joint European asylum system cannot be unilaterally questioned."

Hungary claims first entry point of Asylum seekers elsewhere

The Hungarian government is refusing to accept illegal immigrants being returned to the country, claiming that Hungary is not the first 'real point of entry' in the EU.

The government said: "One only has to look at a map to realise that asylum seekers arriving from Syria or Afghanistan, and filing asylum applications in Hungary, have travelled across at least four other EU member states, illegally, before even making an application in our country."