In light of the 29 terrorist attacks carried out in Europe by people with a migrant background over the past three years, discussing migration in the context of security is indispensable, the Hungarian foreign minister said in Brussels after a meeting of EU foreign ministers and trade representatives on Tuesday.
Referring to the Cotonou Agreement, a treaty between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States signed in June in 2000 and now about to be updated, Péter Szijjártó told Hungarian journalists that the section of the pact dealing with migration was entirely unacceptable for Hungary. He said the reason was that the EU wanted to legitimise and support migration as part of a new international agreement.
Hungary can only approve the start of new talks in line with the directives submitted by the European Commission if the chapter concerned addresses migration as a security challenge, Szijjártó said.
The current text reflects an EU position that migration is good, needs to be managed and encouraged as a priority issue and contributes to global development, he said.
Hungary disagrees with this position the same way as it disagreed with the earlier view that European and African interests were intertwined in respect of migration, he added. It should be left for every nation to decide whether or not they consider migration as a response to economic and social policy challenges, Szijjártó said. Hungary does not think that migration is the right answer to challenges in the labour market and demographics, he added.
Commenting on the meeting of EU foreign ministers and trade, the minister said it is in Hungary’s basic interest that global trade disputes should not lead to trade wars but should be closed with consensus as soon as possible.
Hungary’s exports represent close to 90 percent of the country’s GDP, exceeding 100 billion euros last year, and the amount of per capita foreign capital invested in Hungary is over 8,500 euros. It follows that Hungary is extremely affected by the global trade tensions that developed recently between large international players.
Any measure that hinders global trading is unfavourable to Hungary, Szijjártó said.
Hungary believes the EU should sign as many free trade agreements as possible, the minister said. For this reason, he welcomed that the foreign affairs and trade council had authorised the EC to start talks with Australia and New Zealand. Hungarian exports to these two countries exceed 500 million euros, half of which is represented by the vehicle industry, he added.
Hungary expects the EC to give priority handling to sensitive farming issues during the talks, he added.
Szijjártó said it was also a good news for Hungary’s agriculture and car industry that the council had authorised the EC to sign an agreement on free trade with Japan and Singapore.
Featured image: MTI