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Hungary to build stronger anti-migrant fence, Orban says

Last Updated Aug 26, 2016 at 9:00 am EDT

Hungarian Interior Minister Sandor Pinter, center, listens to his Serbian counterpart Nebojsa Stefanovic, right, during a press conference in Hajdukovo, Serbia, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. Officials say Hungary's police could join the Serbian troops patrolling the Balkan country's border with Macedonia or Bulgaria to help curb the influx of migrants trying to reach the European Union. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

BUDAPEST, Hungary – Hungary will build a new, “more massive” fence on its southern borders to defend against a possible surge in the number of migrants, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Friday.

Orban, who earlier said migrants were “poison,” said on state radio that there may soon be a “greater need for security” and the fortified barrier would be able to stop “several hundreds of thousands of people” at the same time, if needed. He did not say when construction could start.

Orban said the surge could take place if, for example, Turkey allows the millions of refugees living there to leave for Western Europe.

“Then, if we can’t do it nicely, we have to hold them back by force,” Orban said. “And we will do it, too.”

Hungary built fences protected with razor wire on its southern borders with Serbia and Croatia last year, when nearly 400,000 people passed through the country on their way west.

The fences have greatly slowed the flow of people entering Hungary, which is also beefing up its police force with 3,000 new “border hunters” to tighten control at the fences and introduced controversial legislation which allows officials to return migrants to Serbia if they are caught within eight kilometres (five miles) of the border.

Hungary has denied repeated allegations that officers have used force to “escort” the migrants and refugees back to Serbia.

Orban reiterated his call for the stronger protection of Europe’s external borders, saying joint efforts were needed to defend the borders between Serbia and Macedonia and Macedonia and Greece.

“Immigration and migrants damage Europe’s security, are a threat to people and bring terrorism upon us,” Orban said, adding that this was caused by allowing the uncontrolled entry of large numbers of people “from areas where Europe and the western world are seen as the enemy.”

Orban’s virulent anti-migrant stance also includes a government-sponsored referendum on Oct. 2 seeking political support for the rejection of any European Union plans to resettle migrants among its member countries.

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