Foreign Minister calls for changes to EU’s migration policy

The foreign minister said the EU’s migration policy encouraged people to “risk their lives and pay people smugglers thousands of dollars to come to Europe.”

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has called for changes to the European Union’s migration policy, saying that it encouraged people to “risk their lives and pay people smugglers thousands of dollars to come to Europe.”

Minister Szijjártó held talks with Austrian officials in Vienna on Monday, including Harald Mahrer, head of the Austrian Economic Chamber, Gerd Müller, head of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and Michael Spindelegger, director-general of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development. Minister Szijjártó said migration was a “hard topic to conduct talks on rationally”, according to a foreign ministry statement. “Most discussions are ideological or emotional,” Minister Szijjártó said. However, the EU should turn around its pro-migration policy as a matter of priority, Minister Szijjártó said. “We should make it clear that the only way to come to Europe is legally … and illegal migrants will not be allowed in.” Minister Szijjártó said people smugglers “sometimes pretend to be NGOs”. The civil organizations running rescue ships on the Mediterranean “are basically gangs of people smugglers trying to pressure European countries into accepting illegal migrants from God knows where.”

Regarding the war in Ukraine, Minister Szijjártó said “the problems of the developing regions around Europe sooner or later lead to migration waves.” Hungary has a first-hand experience of that, having accepted around one million from the east and thwarted 250,000 illegal entry attempts on the southern border, he said. He said securing peace was the only solution in Ukraine. “Peace would solve all the challenges caused by the war, including the energy crisis, the food crisis, and the difficulties developing countries are facing,” he said. The root causes of migration should also be handled by developing the economies of the countries of departure, he said. Europe is “hurtling towards recession due to the war and utterly failed sanctions,” he said. Hungary wants to stay out of this, and is trying to maintain the number of investments arriving in the country, he said. Austrian companies are the fourth largest investors in Hungary, with 2,500 companies employing some 70,000 people, he added.