Hungary to hold referendum on refugee quotas

Prime minister's office says referendum will be held later this year on quotas for resettlement of refugees.

    According to the UN, more than 700,000 refugees reached Europe in 2015 [Reuters]
    According to the UN, more than 700,000 refugees reached Europe in 2015 [Reuters]

    Hungary plans to hold a referendum on future European Union quotas for resettling refugees, the prime minister's cabinet has said, the latest anti-refugee move by the right-wing government.

    Cabinet minister Antal Rogan said on Tuesday that after the parliament gives the plan the green light, President Janos Ader will have to set the date for the referendum on mandatory migrant quotas, which Rogan said was an "issue of national sovereignty".

    Along with Slovakia, Hungary has launched a court challenge against that plan, which will set quotas for each EU country to host a share of the refugees over two years.

    Refugees detained on Austria-Hungary border

    The referendum will ask Hungarians whether they would accept any permanent quota system beyond that.

    The question voters will be asked is: "Do you want the EU, even without the approval of Hungarian parliament, to be able to prescribe the mandatory resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary?"

    The vote, which is expected to be held in September or early October, will be valid if turnout is above 50 percent.

    Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been increasingly virulent in his remarks about refugees and last year said that his country did not want to take in large numbers of Muslims.

    Widely criticised for his handling of the flow of refugees into Europe, Orban has also been responsible for Hungary's controversial fence along its border with Serbia.

    The European Union reached a deal in September to share out 120,000 refugees across the bloc.

    Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia all voted against the plan to share the intake of refugees, while Finland abstained.

    Once parliament approves holding the referendum, President Ader will set a date on the matter that Rogan said was an "issue of national sovereignty".

    Hungary: Building fences, deterring migrants?

    SOURCE: Agencies


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