November 17, 2015 / 10:10 AM / 2 years ago

Migrant quotas would spread terrorism across Europe: Hungary PM

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses Parliament in Budapest, Hungary, November 16, 2015.Bernadett Szabo

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - European Union migrant quotas would spread terrorism across Europe, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told lawmakers in response to the Paris attacks, as parliament prepared a legal challenge against the quota regime.

Orban, whose policy to fence off the flow of hundreds of thousands of migrants pouring into Europe from the Middle East and Asia has drawn criticism from his neighbors, used Friday's attacks in Paris to defend his hard line against migration.

In September EU leaders approved the mandatory relocation of up to 120,000 migrants across member states by 2017 in a decision opposed by Hungary and several other eastern European Union nations.

"In light of this terror attack, Brussels cannot challenge the right of member states to defend themselves," Orban told parliament on Monday. His Fidesz party has a nearly two-thirds majority, making endorsement of the challenge a formality.

"Mandatory resettlement quotas are dangerous because they would spread terrorism across Europe," Orban said.

Friday's attack in Paris prompted a similar response from Poland, where European affairs minister designate Konrad Szymanski said his incoming government could not accept migrants under EU quotas. Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico said that militants may have infiltrated the migrant wave.

Authorities in several countries have said that the holder of a passport found near the body of one of the gunmen who died in the Paris attacks was a Syrian who arrived in Greece last month and was registered as a refugee in Europe.

Hungarian lawmakers could vote on the motion to challenge the quota regime as soon as Tuesday or next week, joining neighboring Slovakia, which has also said it would seek legal remedy.

"There will be no quotas or resettlements here as long as this government breathes," said Orban, whose tough stance over the issue has boosted support for his government.

Orban said the continent failed to prevent militant attacks because of its mishandling of the flow of migrants escaping conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

"(We do that) without control, without identification, without knowing who they are, whether they have carried arms, killed people, been members of terrorist organizations, received training ... without knowing anything at all," he said.

He blamed the EU's ineffectiveness on its insistence on a federal system, calling it a "systemic error" and a "distortion of thought" that prevented efficient action and comparing it to Nazi and Communist regimes in the 20th century.

"There are some who think we will be happy, we will have a nice life in Europe if we eradicate nation states. If we switch them off. That is a crazy idea just like the previous ones were."

Reporting by Gergely Szakacs and Marton Dunai; Editing by Dominic Evans

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