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Feb 28, 2017 - Zoltán Kovács

Putting the rights of illegals before the rights of European citizens is “insane”

Yesterday afternoon, Hungarian Minister of Justice Trócsányi and I were invited to defend the Orbán Government’s policy on migration before the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

Yesterday afternoon, Hungarian Minister of Justice Trócsányi and I were invited to defend the Orbán Government’s policy on migration before the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

It’s not the first time I’ve had the honor of appearing at a hearing of this committee, known by its acronym as LIBE. And like so many other such occasions, it put on clear display the way liberal, European politicians and international organizations, who push an agenda supporting illegal immigration, join forces to criticize the Hungarian government for its pro-security response to migration.

The attacks at yesterday’s hearing were no less vehement than before, despite the fact that Hungary has shown that our approach works, if our goal is to protect the integrity and hard-won freedoms of the European Union.

When we debate the issue of border security and illegal migration in a forum like this, it’s a bit like paying a visit to an elderly aunt. You know the one. You adore her, but in her old age she is ill-tempered and no longer thinks clearly. Unfortunately, poor, old Auntie Europe is not merely suffering from dementia, but she has fallen under some bad influences.

The European community turns 60 years old on March 25th, and if there’s one single achievement that European citizens regularly put at the top of their list of what makes the EU great, it’s the freedom of movement across a European territory that has effectively eliminated internal borders. Today’s EU has been painfully slow in realizing that this freedom is at risk.

Two years ago, when we noticed that hundreds of thousands were slipping illegally across our southern border into the borderless EU, most of them without proper documentation and flaunting the rules, we told our European allies that we had better reinforce the external border, so at least we know who’s coming in. ‘That’s not nice. You shouldn’t do that,’ we were told.

We took it upon ourselves to reinforce our stretch of the external border of the EU’s Schengen Area – a responsibility under the Schengen treaty, by the way. As a result, the Western Balkans migration route is coming under control. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the rest of the community, not until we see the borders of Europe properly secured and effectively controlled.

Until then, we have another problem. The current European approach asserts that member states must put the right of freedom of movement for illegals before the freedom of movement and security of our own citizens. As a result, unknown illegals and terrorists come and go as they wish. This is not hyperbole. We’re talking about real examples like the Berlin Christmas attacker, who crossed two European borders before he was accidentally spotted or ISIS fighters who organized and carried out the attacks in Paris in 2015.

Europe’s proposed solution? “Instead of forcing the Greeks and Italians to protect their own borders and appreciate our work that we do,” Prime Minister Orbán said in an interview last Friday, “they continuously let illegal migrants into the EU [and] they demand complete check of passport-holding, law-abiding citizens.”

“That’s insane,” said the prime minister. And this is exactly what we saw at yesterday’s hearing. It could mean the destruction of the most popular achievement of the European Union, right before our eyes.

“The EU is both slow and heading in the wrong direction,” the prime minister said. This latter is the worst part. We attempt to influence Europe, but we are certainly not the only nor the most powerful ones. Organizations posing as groups of concerned citizens, who are in fact only the local branch offices of global interest groups, tell Europe that illegal migration, the undocumented millions do not pose a threat. Instead, these NGOs say, they are the solution because Europe is too old.

That’s an ideology-driven argument that would be worth a serious, thoughtful debate. Instead of debating and engaging the facts, however, the other side appears determined to pressure the government and influence migration policy without any democratic authorization. The simple idea that we want to require these international organizations to meet certain standards of transparency and accountability, requirements like those that political parties must meet, seems to be an outrage. It’s a crackdown on civil society, they say. Clearly, it is not.

Echoing the prime minister’s words, Minister Trócsányi said that the regulations are “completely in line with the European laws.” The government of Hungary, he added, “feels responsible not only for its own citizens, but also for the citizens of Europe.”

When your position is sound, as ours is, it’s easier to defend, even when opponents are loud and aggressive. Besides, we have an obligation because the stakes are big. We’re talking about our security and the integrity and hard-won freedoms of the EU.