The Latest: Hungary PM lauds Europe's 'migrant-free zone'
Oct. 23, 2017
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The Latest on Europe's response to migrants and refugees: (all times local):
Hungary's prime minister says Central Europe is the continent's last "migrant-free zone" and that unity among countries such as Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic could stop globalization and mass migration.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, an ardent opponent of immigration, said Europe needs to be "safe, fair, civic, Christian and free" and return to the grandeur he claims it possessed before becoming increasingly multicultural.
Orban reiterated his criticism of the European Union's leadership and his belief that Europe's external borders must be protected. He also blamed a "speculative financial empire" for the "invasion" of migrants to Europe since 2015, an apparent reference to Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros.
The prime minister made his remarks on the 61st anniversary of the Hungary's 1956 anti-Soviet uprising. Soviet tanks crushed the uprising within days and some 200,000 Hungarian refugees fled West.
Cyprus' interior ministry says larger European Union countries should do their fair share and accept more migrants from overburdened member states.
The ministry said in a statement to The Associated Press on Monday that the EU needs a more "balanced, holistic and integrated" approach to migration that includes moving people from the coastal countries that first receive them.
The ministry said Cyprus would adhere to its EU obligations, but that there's a "misperception" the island nation situated between Turkey and Greece isn't on the front line of Europe's refugee influx from Syria and other Mideast countries.
EU statistics show that Cyprus ranks fourth among the bloc's 28 nations in the number of asylum applications per capita. The island receives 894 applications for every 1 million of its people.
Human rights and aid groups are urging Greece's government to end a "containment policy" of migrants reaching islands in the Aegean Sea from Turkey, warning of worsening conditions ahead of winter.
In an open letter to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday, the 19 international and Greek organizations said thousands or refugees and migrants face "abysmal conditions" on Greek islands but are not allowed to travel on to the mainland.
About a quarter of some 60,000 migrants and refugees stranded in Greece are under restriction on the islands as part of an agreement reached last year between the European Union and Turkey.
NATO remains deployed in the Aegean to back up Greek and EU anti-smuggling operations, but the number of daily migrant arrivals has risen in recent weeks.