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Feb 23, 2021

FM: EU relations with southern neighbors should rest on efforts to stop migration

The foreign minister said northbound migration into the EU could be stopped only in close cooperation with countries in north Africa and the Middle East.

 

The foreign minister said the European Union’s relations with its southern neighbors should be determined by efforts to stop migration.

On the side-lines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers, Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said northbound migration into the EU could be stopped only in close cooperation with countries in north Africa and the Middle East. He said that migration, besides presenting cultural and security threats, also presented a “very serious” health risk.

“It is in Europe’s security interest to stop migration. The discussion should focus on stopping rather than handling migration,” Minister Szijjártó said in a video on Facebook. The Visegrad Group has started cooperation with Morocco, Libya and Tunisia to curb the waves of illegal migration, he noted. Resettlement quotas should not be mandatory in the EU as this encourages human smugglers and migrants, he said.

Discussing Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, Minister Szijjártó said: “The best vaccine is the one that gets here and is ready to be administered to Hungarians.” “Hungary is still working to procure the largest possible amount of all the vaccines approved by Hungarian experts at the fastest possible pace, because that is the way to protect them from the pandemic,” Minister Szijjártó said.

Regarding the discussion on EU-Russia ties, Minister Szijjártó said the matter should be approached strategically and “not narrowed down to sanctions or the issues around Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny.” Ties with Moscow have an impact on issues such as trade, the handling of conflicts that pose security risks, international cooperation in energy supply, and the effort against the coronavirus, he said. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the value of international cooperation has grown, he said.

In relation to the debate on the ties between the EU and the US, Minister Szijjártó said Hungary’s partnership with the US was based on “significant economic, defense and political cooperation”. “The Hungarian government is committed to maintaining and, if necessary, improving a high-level political network” in the US, he said.

Minister Szijjártó also noted the “serious disruptions” to freight transport caused by recent German border restrictions. The minister said he agreed with his Czech, Austrian and Luxemburg counterparts to inform each other regarding the situation.

The minister said he would participate in a vote in parliament scheduled for Monday on extending the special legal order with a view to curbing the coronavirus pandemic in the country. “The lives and safety of Hungarians and a speedy relaunch of the economy can only be ensured if the government has the means to act swiftly and effectively,” Minister Szijjártó said.

Photo credit: Facebook/Szijjártó Péter