Rinkevics: This is not an anti-German bloc

Foreign ministers and high-level representatives of twelve countries meeting in Latvia Friday said they were opposed to the introduction of mandatory refugee or immigration quotas, but denied their meeting was designed to form an anti-German bloc on the issue.

The countries, consisting of the Nordic (Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Denmark), Baltic (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) and Visegrad (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic) countries had two days of talks in the Jurmala resort before delivering the results of their deliberations to the press.

However, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics denied the gathering was designed to create a bloc opposed to Germany's softer line on migration issues.

“I was a little bit amazed to read this morning in the German press, Spiegel, that this was an anti-German or anti-migration gathering. I think this time Spiegel got it totally wrong,” Rinkevics said.

"This was a very fruitful discussion and we have come a little closer together on some issues where some of us have nuanced opinion," Rinkevics said.

"From the very first day we have been, and we continue to be, against any mandatory quotas," said Rinkevics.

Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto strongly defended his country's hardline approach during the current refugee crisis.

“Hungary has always complied with all the regulations, all the obligations and all international standards. Unfortunately those migrants who have marched through our country haven't done so. They have broken our regulations, not only national but European ones,” said Szijjarto.

"Hungary has always been ready to accept refugees. When there was war on the territory of former Yugoslavia we gave shelter to tens of thousands of people."

“Please forgive me but I'm not quite sure whether to consider someone as a refugee who crosses six or seven safe countries in order to get somewhere."

"It's a fundamental human right to have a safe life, but it's not a fundamental human right to choose which country you want to live in,” he added.

Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said the Visegrad countries "have repeatedly rejected the idea of permanent mandatory quotas".

"We want border control. We have to strengthen our border control, we have to create a transparent system to register the migrants to be able to differentiate between real political asylum [seekers] and identify economic migrants," Zaoralek said.

"We are ready to elaborate a common planned programme but mandatory quotas are unacceptable."  

 

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