BRUSSELS , Sept. 13 (UPI) — Luxembourg’s foreign minister called for Hungary’s expulsion from the European Union for its treatment of refugees.
Interviewed by the German newspaper Die Welt, Jean Asselborn said “Anyone who, like Hungary, builds fences against refugees from war or who violates press freedom and judicial independence should be excluded temporarily, or if necessary for ever, from the EU.”
He added that seekers of asylum are treated “worse than wild animals” in Hungary, and called for a change in EU rules so that a country’s suspension, currently requiring a unanimous vote by the rest of the 27-member bloc, could be accomplished more easily.
The Hungarian government has opposed taking in refugees; it built a fence on its border with Serbia and blocked passage from Croatia to Hungary in 2015.
Asselborn’s comments came after a July report by Human Rights Watch about Hungary’s “cruel and violent treatment” of refugees, noting some had been “viciously beaten and forced back across the border.”
EU foreign ministers are expected to meet in Bratislava, Slovakia, later this week.
Hungary will hold a referendum Oct. 2 on a relocation plan under which 1,294 asylum seekers will be sent to Hungary. The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban has mailed a pamphlet to millions of potential voters, calling for rejection of the plan. The 18-page pamphlet says a “forced settlement endangers our culture and traditions.”
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was among European leaders who rejected Asselborn’s views, noting a call for Hungary’s expulsion “is not an agreed position in Europe. I can understand, looking at Hungary, that some in Europe are getting impatient. However, it is not my personal approach to show a European member state the door.”