Hungary and Australia are “in full agreement” on the issue of migration, the need to tackle the issue at its roots and for strong border protections, and that it is crucial for countries to preserve their sovereignty and security, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said after talks with Julie Bishop, his Australian counterpart, in Budapest on Thursday.
Australia’s weight on the global political and economic stage is continuously growing, so the European Union, central Europe and Hungary have an interest in deepening relations with that country, Szijjártó told a press conference he held jointly with Bishop.
The minister said that last week the framework agreement between the EU and Australia aimed at deepening cooperation was submitted to parliament for ratification. Hungary is set to become the third EU member state to ratify the document when the new parliament approves it after the spring election, he said.
Szijjártó noted that the EU and Australia are preparing to start talks on a free trade agreement. Hungary firmly supports starting the talks as soon as possible, he said.
Hungary has a competitive economy with the lowest taxes in the EU, Szijjártó said. It is a leading EU member state in terms of productivity, so “overall we have nothing to be afraid of” when it comes to the talks, Szijjártó said. He added, however, that “national sensitivities” would have to be taken into consideration.
He said Hungary and Australia are both committed to the fight against terrorism. Their troops are fighting and will continue to fight together against the Islamic State terrorist organisation in Iraq, he added.
Szijjártó said he and Bishop had also discussed the United Nations’ global migration package. Hungary considers the package’s premise that migration is a positive and unstoppable phenomenon “unacceptable”, Szijjártó said, arguing that migration is “bad, dangerous and must be stopped”.
He said Hungary and Australia were also in agreement on their goals to eliminate human smuggling.
Europe must turn back the boats of people smugglers carrying illegal migrants across the Mediterranean the same way that Australia did on its own shores, he added.
Szijjártó said Australia had done the “sensible thing” when it decided that it was going to process asylum requests outside its borders. The EU should follow its example and process asylum requests in hot spots set up outside its borders, he added. It is also sensible, the minister said, that Australia resettles illegal migrants in third countries.
Bishop said that though Australia does not want to lecture other countries on migration, it served as a good example that a country does not have to “shut the door on refugees” if they arrive in an organised manner regulated by the government. She said Australia would be happy to share its experiences in dealing with migration with other countries. Australia is a destination of immigrants and the “most successful multicultural country” that has welcomed people from all over the world, she said. Bishop added that her country was also happy to take in refugees, but insists on preserving its sovereignty when it comes to immigration policy.
She said the considerable Hungarian diaspora in Australia was one of the foundations of her country’s close ties with Hungary.
Australia took in many Hungarians after 1956, she noted, adding that they had contributed greatly to the country’s progress.
As regards economic ties, Bishop said Hungary and Australia had plenty of opportunities for cooperation in terms of trade and investment.
She said Australia was ready to hold talks with the other three countries of the Visegrád Group as well, as the alliance represents an important position within the EU.
featured image: MTI