Hungary’s expectation from the European Union’s new Africa strategy currently being drafted is that it should focus on economic development and improving security instead of instigating new waves of migration, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Monday during the break of an EU foreign ministers’ meeting.
The aim of the new strategy is to boost the ability of African countries to retain their population in a way that keeps pace with population growth, Szijjártó told the press. If the strategy fails to work, new waves of migrants will leave Africa, he added.
Some EU countries consider migration to be a positive trend, believing migrants may be the solution to their economic or demographic woes, he said.
“Hungary’s opinion is that the common Africa strategy must not serve a means or a point of reference for certain member countries to force their will on the whole of the EU,” he said.
Szijjártó said Hungary focused on economic development and improving living conditions, having raised its funding for economic development schemes in Africa five-fold in a single year. Hungary spent 1.3 billion US dollars in 2017 and 6.9 billion last year on food, health, irrigation, and water management in the countries concerned, he said.
Hungary provides scholarships to 1,710 African students, and this year it has opened up opportunities to a further 905 students, he added.
On the subject of possible new EU sanctions regarding human rights on the agenda of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, Szijjártó said interference in the domestic affairs of other countries was being dressed up as a human rights issue, adding that rights should be a legal consideration not a political one.
The new European Commission, he said, should take into consideration all categories of human rights, including those of national minorities and those persecuted for their religion, including Christians.
Regarding the proposal for a new sanctions regime, the minister said
Hungary was ready to discuss the text, but EU sanctions affected different member states in different ways and to different degrees.
Any application of “double standards under the guise of solidarity is an attack on central European countries in the face of migration challenges,” he said, adding that even though Russia, for example, has come under economic sanctions, last year Germany increased its trade there by 56 percent, France by 40 percent and Italy by 37 percent. Hungary, by contrast, has lost 8.5 billion US dollars in export opportunities, he added.
Szijjártó urged the establishment of a compensation mechanism when establishing the legal background for a new sanctions regime.