September 9, 2015 / 3:05 PM / 4 years ago

Hungary's migrant transit zones to be closed off from rest of country: lawmaker

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary’s planned new transit zones near the Serbian border will be closed off from the rest of Hungary but migrants whose asylum requests are rejected will be returned to Serbia, a senior Hungarian ruling Fidesz party lawmaker said on Wednesday.

Migrants sit on a railway track near a collection point in Roszke village, Hungary September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

Gergely Gulyas reiterated that there was no point in talking about migrant quotas until mass immigration was stopped.

Hungary is one of four central European countries that have been resisting pressure to accept mandatory quotas to redistribute some of the hundreds of thousands of migrants flooding into Europe to flee war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

When asked if the new transit zones on the Serbian border would be similar to police detention centers Gulyas said:

“They won’t be similar, so these zones will not be closed towards Serbia, we do not want to prevent in any way those who have come from there to return there,” Gulyas told a news conference. “Towards Hungary, of course, they will be closed.”

He said the zones will be in the territory of Hungary so Hungary would provide medical and other care as needed.

Gulyas said even those who are fleeing persecution and are eligible for refugee status cannot choose the country they wish to live in.

“With respect to the refugee status, it should be clarified... that for even those persons who are really exposed to political persecution, eligibility for refugee status does not mean a free choice of country,” he said.

He said it should be made clear that these migrants are eligible for refugee status in the first safe country they enter and from this respect Turkey, Greece, Albania, Macedonia and Serbia as well as Hungary would count as safe countries.

“This shows that a big majority of migrants are arriving only in the hope of a better life, which is humanly understandable but it poses a threat to the whole of Europe,” he added.

Gulyas said parliament was expected to vote on Sept. 22 on a ruling party proposal to use the army to help police protect the Serbian border.

He also said that it was hard to estimate at this stage, how many migrants will be diverted to other routes after Hungary completes the construction of a fence on its southern border with Serbia.

Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Toby Chopra

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