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Alfano lauds Hungary's 'honesty' on migrants

12 ottobre 2017 | 12.29
LETTURA: 2 minuti

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Italy's foreign minister Angelino Alfano on Thursday praised Hungary for its "sincere and honest" dissent over a controversial plan agreed by European Union leaders in 2015 to relocate 160,000 asylum-seekers from Italy and Greece over a two-year period.

"We have not always shared the same vision on topics, for example, immigration," Alfano told Hungary's foreign and commerce minister Peter Szijjarto in opening remarks to bilateral business forum in Milan.

"But two years on, I can publicly say that you, who immediately said no right from the start, are much better than many countries who signed international accords and then failed to honour them," Alfano said.

"Your dissent was sincere and honest, right from the beginning."

European leaders agreed in September 2015 to relocate a total of 160,000 migrants "in clear need of international protection" from Italy and Greece to other EU countries over two years.

The European Court of Justice - the EU's top court - last month rejected a challenge by Hungary and Slovakia to relocation quotas approved by a majority of EU leaders at the height of the migrant crisis in September 2015.

In September, less than 28,000 people had been relocated in the face of opposition from several Eastern European countries notably Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Romania also voted against the quota scheme.

If Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic refuse to cooperate with the relocation scheme, they could be referred to the ECJ and face heavy fines.

Hungary, which has built a controversial fence on it southern border with Serbia and Croatia, has vowed to use all legal means against the ECJ judgement.

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