European interior ministers prepare for critical refugee quota meeting

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Ahead of a Brussels interior ministers’ meeting a rift has emerged on the quota to relocate some 120,000 refugees. Meanwhile Hungary has empowered ist military to stem the influx of refugees at the country’s borders.

Following failed talks last week, European Union (EU) interior ministers hoped on Tuesday to reach an agreement over the ongoing refugee crisis.

Speaking in Berlin on Monday, German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said Europe needed to agree on a “generous quota” so that the bloc could “fulfill its humanitarian obligations.”

Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Poland and the Czech Republic have all rejected the plan to spread refugees around the EU.

Budapest empowers military

Hungary had until this week been a main EU entry point for migrants fleeing conflict in the Middle East and Africa.

Since it closed its borders to Serbia last week, neighboring Croatia has seen a huge influx of around 30,000 refugees, many of them seeking to pass through to Slovenia and from there to Austria and Germany.

Hungary received international criticism following clashes between refugges and police at border crossings. On Monday Budapest granted extensive new powers to its army and police force in a bid to deter refugees.

 

Non-lethal firearms, rubber bullets, pyrotechnics, tear gas, and net guns are permitted under the legislation. Police will also be able to enter private homes to search for suspected illegal migrants under the new laws.

Populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban warned that Europe was being “overrun” in the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

Shortly after Orban’s announcement on Monday, the United Nations (UN) urged Europe to show “leadership and compassion” towards the refugees.

“The secretary-general is extremely concerned about the deteriorating situation facing refugees and migrants arriving across Europe,” the UN said in a statement.

UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon also raised concerns over borders being closed to the refugees and of lack of sufficient facilities, as well as the increasing number of detained refugees.

Following Tuesday’s meeting in Brussels, European government leaders are due to hold an emergency summit on Wednesday where German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her French counterpart Francois Hollande are expected to deliver a speech to warn of the perils faced by the EU.

It will be the first such joint address by a German chancellor and French president since 1989, when Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterrand visited after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

 

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