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Kurz says EU should drop plan to share out refugees

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Kurz says EU should drop plan to share out refugees
Sebastian Kurz. File photo: BMEIA
09:26 CEST+02:00
Austria's foreign minister says the EU should drop its "unrealistic" proposal to share out refugees across the bloc, as voters in neighbouring Hungary rejected the plan in a closely-watched referendum.

Speaking to German daily Welt am Sonntag, Sebastian Kurz said the European Union should stop clinging to its troubled plan to distribute 160,000 refugees throughout member states, only a fraction of whom have been resettled so far.

Hungary has not accepted a single refugee of the 1,300 allocated under the scheme and instead joined Slovakia in filing a legal challenge against it.

"The target is totally unrealistic," Kurz said, warning that countries' disagreements over the plan could threaten "the cohesion of the entire European Union". Another problem, he added, was that "many refugees refuse to go to certain EU countries such as Romania, Hungary and Poland - they want to go to Austria, Germany or Sweden.”

In another interview with German television network ARD on Sunday evening, he strongly criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door asylum policy: "Germany is forcing other countries to follow a policy that they do not want."

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban has vehemently campaigned against any mandatory quotas to take in refugees. Orban's 'No' camp comfortably won Sunday's referendum on the EU plan - with 98 percent of those who took part voting against quotas. However, voter turnout was only 43 percent which means the result is not binding.

Kurz cautioned against criticising the Hungarian government for its stance, which contrasts strongly with Merkel's policy. "It becomes dangerous when some European Union states create the impression they have the moral high ground over other member countries," he told the Welt am Sonntag.

Kurz said that rather than granting asylum to refugees who have made their way illegally to Europe, the EU should take refugees directly from crisis areas - which would discourage people smuggling.

 
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