August 30, 2015 / 9:58 AM / 2 years ago

France criticizes eastern Europe, Hungary over refugee policy

PARIS (Reuters) - French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius accused eastern European states, notably Hungary, on Sunday of a “scandalous” policy towards refugees going against the values of the European Union.

Some European governments have refused to take in refugees and resisted European Union proposals to agree a common plan to do more to deal with the crisis, which is intensifying due to a surge in migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

“With regard to all those people who are politically chased out of their country we have to be able to welcome them,” Fabius told Europe 1 radio. “Every country has to respond to that. France, Germany, others have, but when I see certain countries that do not accept these groups, I find that scandalous.”

“In particular eastern European states. They are extremely harsh. Hungary is part of Europe, which has values and we do not respect those value by putting up fences,” Fabius said.

Hungary, which is part of Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone, is building a fence along its border with Serbia to contain what it calls a threat to European security, prosperity and identity.

“Hungary is not respecting Europe’s common values so the European authorities need to have a serious discussions, even a stern discussion with its officials,” Fabius said.

The International Organization for Migration estimates a third of a million people have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year to arrive in southern Europe.

The difficulty of agreeing a common policy was manifest in June when leaders angrily rejected European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker’s proposal that they accept binding quotas to share out asylum-seekers from Italy and Greece.

In a joint statement on Sunday with his British and German counterparts, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said they had asked for an urgent summit to discuss immigration in the next couple of weeks.

The three ministers “underlined the need to take immediate measures of face the challenge created by the influx of migrants,” the statement said.

Reporting By John Irish, editing by William Hardy

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