FM: Africa and Europe should strengthen cooperation in fight against terrorism

Hungary thwarted 230,000 illegal entry attempts last year and 173,000 so far this year.

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said Africa and Europe should strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism, as European security strongly depends on that of Africa.

Speaking at the local United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) in Rabat, Minister Szijjártó said European security was the weakest since the Cold War, having to face a war in Ukraine and one in Israel amid a growing threat of terrorism. Europe has also seen a “massive flood of immigrants” in the past eight years, he said. Hungary thwarted 230,000 illegal entry attempts last year and 173,000 so far this year, he said. He slammed the EU migration policy as “irresponsible” for “practically encouraging illegal immigration” and handling the protection of external borders as a human rights issue rather than a security one, he said. Hungarians see robust and strict border protection as a necessity, an issue of sovereignty as well as security, Minister Szijjártó said, adding that Hungary considered illegal migration a crime and an attack on its sovereignty. Minister Szijjártó said terrorism and the “massive migration waves” created a vicious circle. Terrorism is both a root cause and consequence of migration, as terrorists may hide in the masses to travel around the world, he said. He said illegal migration had resulted in the growing threat of terrorism, creating “parallel societies” in several European countries, “no-go zones where the police can’t keep the order, and gang wars have become more frequent.” Hungary has a vested interest in the successful fight against terrorism due to the double security challenge it is facing, one posed by the war in Ukraine and one through migration along the Western Balkan route, he said. At the same time, the fight against terrorism is a global responsibility, he said, calling it “unacceptable” that the UN covered only 3% of UNOCT’s budget, expecting member states to make up the rest. He said he supported the Secretary-General’s proposal to increase funding. Budapest is home to the second largest UNOCT office employing 24 experts, Szijjártó said. Hungary is also part of a programme aiming to filter out potential terrorists, he added. The fight against terrorism cannot succeed without Africa, and European security starts with that of Africa, he said.

Europe needs to make use of African energy sources in order to overcome its energy crisis, Minister Szijjártó said in Tangier on Wednesday, adding that this required infrastructure developments. Hungary is urging the European Union to consider Africa a partner with whom cooperation is in the interest of not just Africans but also Europeans, Minister Szijjártó said at a panel discussion at the International MEDays Forum, according to a ministry statement. Hungary will be “very active” in its support for African infrastructure developments in Brussels, the minister said. Szijjártó said the construction of the planned EastMed gas pipeline would be crucial not just to Africa, but Europe as well, arguing that energy cooperation was impossible without infrastructure developments. Hungarians, he said, believed connectivity and global cooperation were the answer to the challenges faced by the world. Communication channels should be kept open, he said, underlining the importance of “leaving behind the idea of colonialism”. He said an absence of physical links could be “destructive” when it came to economic and trade ties. Szijjártó said that when the countries of the central European region had recognised that connectivity led to “success stories”, everything had become much easier, and relations among them had improved. He said infrastructure developments were the key to economic growth in Africa. Europe has a vested interest in developing Africa, the minister said, arguing that if the continent’s economic circumstances did not improve, Europe would not be able to manage the mass influx of immigrants from there. This was why, he said, it was crucial to promote European investments in Africa. He said Hungary was prepared to contribute its advanced water management technologies which it has already provided to Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. Hungarian companies have also been tasked with a 600 million dollar project to develop public road links in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said.