Hungary's long-standing position of reinforcing the protection of Europe's external borders and restoring law and order along the EU's border zones has gradually become the general consensus position among those present at the EU summit in Malta last week, Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács has said.
“The Hungarian opinion, which was previously branded as utopian, and according to which the direct defense of Europe’s borders is in itself not sufficient, but migration should instead be stopped further away from the borders and as close as possible to the conflict zones that are the source of migration, is now starting to become the prevailing element of talks," Dr. Kovács said during a press conference at the Hungarian Embassy in London.
Kovács said the Hungarian government welcomes this recognition and regards it as extremely timely, but in its opinion, this recognition is not equal to the completion of the task at hand: the declarations made thus far are still very far from actual, effective measures.
“Although the Hungarian government doesn’t like the border security fence either”, it has proven to be effective, because it is capable of stopping, or at least slowing illegal immigration, he said.
“Without physical border barriers, people smugglers would be able to continue their multi-billion euro dealings unhindered," he added.
As a planned new measure, Kovács mentioned that in the future, migrants who submit official requests for asylum will also not be able to move freely within the territory of Hungary until a decision is made on whether they are eligible for political asylum or refugee status.
With regard to the state of the Hungarian economy, Kovács said that "the measures introduced during the past six years have brought the country back from the brink of economic collapse, the rate of unemployment is at historic lows and the number of people in employment exceeds the European average."
Speaking in an interview on Sky News, which aired on Monday evening, Kovács touched on Europe’s relationship with Russia saying that "this issue must be assessed while taking into account reality, and accordingly Hungary is urging a rethink of this relationship, particularly in view of the fact that in the case of Russia an over-politicized, over-ideological approach will not work”.
“We in Central Europe, and especially in Hungary, are dependent [on Russia] whether we like it or not because the European Union is not providing us with the kind of infrastructure we would require to replace our dependency on Russian oil and gas infrastructure, for instance, and this is a reality that we must take into account," Kovács stressed.
In reply to a question on whether, during the course of Brexit negotiations, Hungary would support the British proposal to regain full supervision of its own borders while retaining full access to the European Union’s internal market after leaving the EU, Kovács said that this will be decided at the European level.
“Hungary’s own standpoint on the issue is determined by the security of Hungarians living and working in Great Britain, and the Hungarian government will be insisting that the rights of Hungarians are enforced according to the principle of equality. Otherwise, the 27 partner states of the European Union must negotiate with London together on the conditions for Brexit," he said.