Austria’s interior minister threatened Wednesday to sue Hungary if it refused to take back migrants who had crossed their shared border, as political tensions mounted over immigration before presidential elections.


Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka


Austria’s government, facing a challenge from the far-right Freedom Party, has repeatedly accused Hungary of letting migrants enter its territory in the face of EU rules that asylum seekers must stay in the first country they enter in the bloc.


Hungary, itself preparing for a referendum on whether to accept a Europe-wide asylum quota, has insisted that most refugees enter its territory from other EU states, notably Italy and Greece, in a growing blame game.


“States or groups of states that permanently break the law have to expect legal consequences,” Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka told ORF radio, responding to a question on Hungary’s refusal to give ground.


“In that case, the (Austrian) republic must sue. The republic must see that the European Union acts according to the law, full stop,” he added, without specifying what legal process he was considering.


Budapest built a fence along its border with non-EU member Serbia to stem the flow of hundreds of thousands of people, many of them fleeing violence in the Middle East and North Africa. Both Hungary and Austria had said this month the situation was now broadly under control.