Hungary climbs down on migrant transit zones after EU court ruling

In a somewhat unexpected volte-face, Hungary is to abandon the border transit zones where asylum seekers are held while authorities reviewed their applications following a European court ruling that deemed the practice unlawful, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff Gergely Gulyás said on Thursday.

The EU court ruled that two Afghan and two Iranian nationals who arrived in Hungary from Serbia in late 2018 and early 2019 and remained stuck in a transit zone on the Hungarian-Serbian border should be released immediately.

“The Hungarian government disagrees with the ruling, we consider it a risk with regard to European security, but as an EU member state, we will adhere to all court rulings,” Minister Gulyás told an online press briefing, adding that once the transit zones are scrapped, asylum requests can only be submitted at Hungarian embassies and consulates.

Gulyas said the four would be detained elsewhere, while another 280 people would be moved to a facility for asylum seekers.

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