Mass migration will make the European Union weaker, not stronger, Balázs Orbán, state secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, told a panel discussion on Monday.
The 2015 migration crisis was a “milestone” in Europe, Orbán said at the event organised by the Danube Institute, arguing that it had led European politicians to realise that the world had changed and that they had been “unprepared” for what was happening.
The laws that were being applied during the crisis had been enacted decades before and had been meant to address the issue of political refugees fleeing communist countries at the time, Orbán said.
But the world has changed, the state secretary said. The bipolar world of the Cold War is gone and has left behind unstable regions which many are trying to leave, he said. Many try to enter the European Union illegally and apply for asylum, he said, adding that many illegal migrants wanted to stay even if their asylum request is denied.
Orbán said that if the EU indicated to migrants that they had a chance to enter the bloc, they were even prepared to try to enter illegally.
The Hungarian government believes that countries do have a humanitarian duty towards those in need, but this means providing them help as close to their homeland as possible, not taking them in, the state secretary said, noting the government’s Hungary Helps humanitarian scheme.
Former US attorney general Jeff Sessions said the issue of migration also became a key issue in the US in 2015.
If a country says it has open borders, it will attract more and more people, the former Republican senator said.
Sessions also highlighted the importance of nation-states, saying they were currently the most important factors in global politics.
Nation states also have a responsibility to enact laws and enforce them, he said. Most immigrants seeking entry into the US do not meet the requirements for refugee status, but are merely trying to enter the country in hope of a better life, he added.
Sessions praised Hungary’s “consistent” migration policy, saying the country had set an example to the world in handling migration.