Hungary orders 100-mile Serbia border fence to keep out migrants
Foriegn minister says they are taking action to stop hundreds of thousands of migrants entering the country as EU is 'too slow to act'
“This is a scandal,” a former senior diplomat in the region told the Telegraph. “Hungary, which was the first Communist country to dismantle the Iron Curtain, is now building a new curtain on its southern border."
“This is a very obvious diversionary tactic. There are many social and economic problems here. There are four million people (40 percent of Hungary’s population) living in poverty, ” the former diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Aleksandar Vucic, the Serbian prime minister, said he was "surprised and shocked" by the Hungarian government's plan to close the border with Serbia.
"I am surprised and shocked. We will discuss this decision with our Hungarian colleagues," Mr Vucic said live on RTS state television during a visit to Oslo.
The move will also prove unpopular with the EU border agency Frontex, which slammed a recent similar Bulgarian fencing project along its border with Turkey earlier in the year as a poor approach to tackling migration problems.
Mr Orbán has upped his anti-immigration rhetoric in recent weeks, calling migration "a threat to European civilisation” and suggesting that an EU internment camp be set up outside the bloc’s borders. He has also launched a “national consultation on immigration and terrorism” - condemned by his own European People's Party bloc in the European Parliament - which asks questions such as "Do you agree that mistaken immigration policies contribute to the spread of terrorism?"
The government is also running a state-funded billboard campaign, aimed at illegal migrants, which features such slogans as “If you come to Hungary, do not take the jobs of Hungarians.”
• 'Come to Hungary, we're already working in London' says pro-immigration billboard campaign
The United Nations has condemned the billboards, criticising them for attempting “to whip up xenophobia”, and on Wednesday launching its own counter-campaign highlighting the positive roles played by migrants within Hungary.
Political allies of the Hungarian government across the border in Serbia, home to a sizeable ethnic-Hungarian minority, defended the fence plan on Wednesday. István Pásztor, the leader of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians party, said the move will mean migrants will now "very likely avoid this area."
But the Pope Francis had harsh words for nations which refused to accept migrants, saying in his weekly audience that "people and institutions" who close doors to them should seek forgiveness from God.