Berlin, March 17 (MTI) – Europe is facing a migrant crisis, not a refugee crisis, government spokesman Zoltán Kovács told German public service television ZDF on Friday.
Responding to the suggestion on the programme that Hungary is one of the largest beneficiaries of European Union transfers and yet does not want to take in refugees, Kovács said the two matters should not be lumped together.
Kovács said that a total of 1.2 million people had arrived in Europe last year alone, adding that most of them had not come from Syria.
Hungarian authorities registered migrants from 104 countries, Kovács said, arguing that this meant that Europe was facing “mass migration of intercontinental proportions”. Hungary has a duty under the Schengen rules to stop those who are not authorised to enter the Schengen zone from coming here, the spokesman said. The country has therefore taken the necessary steps on its border with Serbia to put an end to illegal migration, he added.
Kovács insisted that Hungary’s measures against illegal migration had “nothing to do with” its receipt of EU structural funds. Quoting European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Gunther Oettinger, he added that net contributors, including Germany, also benefit from EU funds.
Asked if Hungary was in breach of European and international asylum rules, Kovács said this was not the case at all. He added that freely choosing the country where to request asylum was not a fundamental human right.
The majority of those arriving in Europe do not even receive refugee status, he said. This begs the question whether taking in hundreds of thousands of people only to send them back later because they are not eligible for asylum is a humane measure, and if instead it would be better to stop them outside the EU’s border and determine who among them can receive refugee status, Kovacs added.
Left-wing politicians, however, “invite people from all over the world” and encourage them to violate international law by crossing borders illegally, Kovács said.
Hungary’s government on the other hand believes that the statuses of the “hundreds of thousands and millions” of people looking to enter Europe should be determined outside the EU’s territory, he added.
Commenting on the suggestion that Hungary was the first European country to erect a fence along its border, Kovács said Spain had installed fences on the borders of its North African territories long ago and that the French had also erected a border in Calais to block the entrance of the Channel Tunnel.
The government spokesman also said that opening up the borders to migrants was not the way to resolve Europe’s demographic problems.
He said Hungary does offer protection to those eligible for political asylum, adding, however, that there were very few such asylum seekers.