FM: Stemming illegal migration requires external allies

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said Europe had been under constant pressure from migration since 2015.

The foreign minister said that stemming the waves of illegal migration requires external allies such as Egypt, an “extremely important partner”.

Following talks with his Visegrad counterparts and the foreign minister of Egypt in Budapest on Monday, Péter Szijjártó said Europe had been under constant pressure from migration since 2015. The minister insisted that the Visegrad Group countries had cooperated and thwarted plans to introduce migrant quotas in Europe, adding that “had we not succeeded, thousands or even tens of thousands of illegal migrants would now be living in our countries”. Close cooperation is still needed, he said, adding that “one mistake is being made after another” on the international stage and “irresponsible remarks are threatening even greater migration waves.” Referring to a potential 4 million refugees leaving Afghanistan, Minister Szijjártó said: “We now hear proposals that those migrants will have to be redistributed.” He added that Europe was now facing migration pressure from the East, too, at Poland’s borders.

Regarding Egypt, Minister Szijjártó said the country had proven that migration by sea could be stopped by shutting maritime borders and eliminating human smuggling rings. “It would be to good purpose if the EU changed its attitude towards Egypt accordingly. It would be good to turn down the volume of statements condemning Egypt, and it would be also good if the European development funds for Egypt in fact arrived,” Szijjártó said, adding: “We will continue to rely on Egypt in the future”. V4 countries will assess whether Egypt is being hindered by European sanctions in obtaining technologies that would make its border controls more effective, Minister Szijjártó said.

The talks, attended by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Jakub Kulhanek of the Czecz Republic, Mariusz Blaszczak of Poland, and Slovak foreign affairs state secretary Martin Klus, were held in preparation for a V4-Egypt summit on Tuesday.

Concerning the coronavirus pandemic, Minister Szijjártó said that Hungary is donating 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Egypt “because Egypt is a favourite destination of Hungarian tourists”. He added that talks were under way on mutually honouring coronavirus vaccination certificates. The Hungarian and Egyptian governments are in talks on gas supplies to increase Hungary’s energy security, Minister Szijjártó said. The new South Stream gas pipe line now offers an opportunity for Hungary to receive gas from the eastern Mediterranean and from Egypt’s LNG terminals, he added. Parties at the talks also signed several letters of understanding in the areas of trade, international development projects, education, culture, and space research.

Photo credit: MTI