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Orban rejects EU request to add non-members to “safe” travel list

Budapest, Hungary – Viktor Orban says Hungary will not comply with the European Union request to add 14 non-member states to a “safe” travel list, in a move aimed at supporting the EU travel industry and tourist destinations, heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of the list, Hungary will only permit the residents of Serbia, which is home to a large ethnic Hungarian minority, to enter its territory.

On Tuesday, the European Union gave its approval to leisure or business travel from 14 non-EU countries, which include Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

“For the time being we cannot support the EU’s request because this would go against the healthcare interests of the Hungarian people,” Viktor Orban said in a video posted on his Facebook page on Thursday, adding that for people transiting through the country, Hungary will reinstate its “humanitarian corridor” which was in place at the peak of the pandemic in Europe.

“They will not be allowed to leave this path and we will keep strict border controls in place,” he said.

The EU Council specified that the recommendation is not legally binding and that the authorities of the member states remain responsible for implementing the content of the recommendation.

The Czech Republic also published its own “personalised” list, narrowed down to eight countries, which include Australia, Canada, Japan, Montenegro, New Zealand, Serbia, South Korea and Thailand.

Italy also rejected the EU request, saying it will keep quarantine restrictions in place for all nations that were not part of the free-travel Schengen area.

While the EU member states had a hard time agreeing on a final safe travel list of countries whose residents could travel to the bloc from July, the United States, Brazil and Russia were always said to be excluded.

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