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Jun 30, 2020

FM: Stability in the Middle East is key to tackling migration

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said Libyan stability is key to stopping illegal migration to the European Union.

 

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said Libyan stability is key to stopping illegal migration to the European Union.

Speaking before talks with Luigi di Maio, his Italian counterpart. Minister Szijjártó told MTI that the coronavirus pandemic was likely to trigger new waves of migration, and Libya presents the highest risk because of the ability of migrants to pass freely through its territory towards Europe.

The minister said its stability would help to keep illegal migration in check, he said. Boosting the Libyan coast guard is therefore a shared objective, he said. Failing that, “tens or even hundreds of thousands” of migrants may make their way to Europe, posing health and economic risks as well as cultural and security challenges, he said.

The jobs lost in Europe due to the coronavirus pandemic render earlier arguments that migrants would be beneficial for the labor market “illogical and empty,” he said. European governments and politicians should prioritise helping Europeans, and currently that involves pushing back against migrants targeting European jobs. He added that Italy is on the frontline of that fight, and has so far received three times as many migrants in 2020 as it did in 2019, he said.

Regarding economic ties, Minister Szijjártó noted that Italy is Hungary’s fifth largest trading partner, with trade exceeding 10 billion euros last year. The Hungarian Eximbank has opened a 450 million euro credit line to help Hungarian companies exporting to Italy, he said.

Finally, on the topic of tourism, Minister Szijjártó said the two countries coordinated continuously. Last year, some 550,000 Hungarians travelled to Italy, and Wizz Air is resuming flights to seven Italian cities from July, he noted. Travellers should continue to exercise caution, however, he warned.

Photo credit: MTI/KKM