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Hungary’s PM Calls for National Referendum on Migrant Quota

  • VOA News

Migrants walk along Hungary's border fence on the Serbian side of the border near Morahalom, Hungary, Feb. 22, 2016.

Migrants walk along Hungary's border fence on the Serbian side of the border near Morahalom, Hungary, Feb. 22, 2016.

Hungary’s prime minister has called for a national referendum on the European Union’s mandatory quotas for migrants and refugees.

Speaking in parliament Wednesday, Viktor Orban reiterated that Brussels has no right to "redraw Europe's cultural and religious identity," adding that introducing resettlement quotas without voter approval “equals an abuse of power.”

"We Hungarians feel – I am convinced that the government is responding to public sentiment now – we think that introducing resettlement quotas for migrants without the backing of the people equals an abuse of power," Orban said.

He said that the referendum question would be: "Do you want the EU to prescribe the mandatory relocation of non-Hungarian citizens to Hungary without the approval of the Hungarian parliament?"

FILE - Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses the media on the occasion of a meeting with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann and Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner at the Hungarian Embassy in Vienna, Austria, Sept. 25, 2015.

FILE - Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses the media on the occasion of a meeting with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann and Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner at the Hungarian Embassy in Vienna, Austria, Sept. 25, 2015.

Orban said the question has been submitted for approval to the National Election Office, but did not say when the referendum would take place.

His right wing government has rejected the initiative of migrant quotas since the migrant crisis escalated last year.

Hungary drew strong criticism from the EU for erecting a steel fence along Hungary's southern border to keep out migrants, a policy now adopted by other countries affected by the unprecedented influx of migrants since World War Two.

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