BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary’s leader railed Thursday at Germany and EU leaders for a lacking urgency in dealing with Europe’s migrant crisis as chaos reigned back home, where migrants by the hundreds dashed into Budapest’s main train station after police stopped blocking its entrance.
In a swirl of confusion, the migrants piled into trains at the Keleti station in the Hungarian capital despite announcements that there was no service to Western Europe. Hungary’s railway company said it had suspended all direct trains from the Hungarian capital to western destinations in the interests of railway transport security.
Police later peacefully cleared roughly 900 migrants from one train, many of whom sat down on the platforms to wait. Another train then left with migrants, stopping in the town of Bicske, 35 kilometers (22 miles) west of Budapest, where one of Hungary’s refugee camps is located.
The question of how to defuse the human gridlock in Hungary was being hotly debated Thursday in Brussels at a meeting between EU leaders and Hungary’s anti-immigrant prime minister, Viktor Orban. Hungary, which for months had done little to prevent applicants from head west after short bureaucratic delays, now says it won’t let more migrants deeper into the European Union.
We Hungarians are full of fear. People in Europe are full of fear, because we see that European leaders, among them the prime ministers, are not capable of controlling the situation, Orban said.
Orban blamed Germany and confirmed his government’s plan to send up to 3,500 troops to Hungary’s southern border with Serbia, stepping up efforts to stop as many migrants as possible from entering the country. His top aide said 160,000 migrants had reached Hungary this year, nearly 90,000 of them since July 6.
The migrant problem is not a European problem, the problem is a German problem, nobody would like to stay in Hungary, Orban said. All of them would like to go to Germany.
He vowed that Hungary would defend its borders strictly applying EU laws by fingerprinting and screening all migrants that cross into its territory. Once the new measures are passed in parliament, he said, migrants and smugglers alike would be warned of what was to come.
The military deployment in one of several measures tightening migration laws and increasing penalties for human traffickers expected to be approved Friday by Hungarian lawmakers.
Orban’s chief of staff, Janos Lazar urged Germany to help ease the situation at the Keleti train station. With an estimated 3,000 people camping outside it in the center of Budapest, conditions have grown increasingly squalid despite the efforts of volunteers distributing water, food, medicine and disinfectants.
We would like Germany, where the migrants want to go, to pull its own weight, Lazar said, suggesting the migrants go to the German embassy in Budapest and try to apply for a German entry visa.
We believe this is primarily an immigration crisis, not a refugee crisis, and in this situation Europe can’t renounce defending its borders, Lazar told reporters in parliament.
On Wednesday, migrants had threatened to walk the 105 miles (170 kilometers) to the Austrian border if police would not let them board trains to their desired destinations in Austria and Germany.
Associated Press reporters Bela Szandelszky in Budapest, Lorne Cook in Brussels and Petr Josek in Bicske, Hungary, contributed to this report.
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