The international community should shift its focus to helping Syrian refugees return to their homeland, Hungary’s foreign minister said in Beirut on Thursday, warning that failure to do so could lead to instability in the Middle East and “unprecedented migration pressure”.
Because Hungary has a level of political stability unlike any other country in Europe, its government representatives can afford to speak openly and honestly even about the most controversial issues, Péter Szijjárto told a conference on the Syrian civil war, according to a foreign ministry statement.
“And that’s why we are brave enough to say that migration is a bad and dangerous phenomenon,” Szijjártó said. “We are brave enough to say that migration should not be managed but should be stopped.”
Migration hurts the migrant countries of origin and destabilises transit and destination countries, the minister said.
He said the global food crisis caused by the war in Ukraine and the encouragement of migration could lead to the biggest-ever migration waves.
Rather than encouraging migration, the international community should work to create the conditions for migrants to return to their homelands as soon as possible, Szijjártó said. Otherwise, more regions could face instability, which would create serious global security challenges, he warned.
Szijjártó thanked Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt for hosting migrants, and said action should be taken to ease the burden on these countries. Instead of lecturing and criticising these countries, he added, the West should express its gratitude and offer them help.
Lebanon can continue to rely on Hungary, Szijjártó said, noting that the Hungarian government believed in eliminating the root causes of migration instead of treating the symptoms.
He mentioned the Hungary Helps humanitarian programme, saying the aim was to allow people to stay in their homeland.
Meanwhile, Szijjártó said Hungary was spending a total of 3.8 million dollars on renovating 63 churches in Lebanon so that local Christian communities can practise their faith.
Hungary has also spent around 27 million dollars on similar projects in Syria, he said, noting that Hungary has rebuilt hundreds of buildings and schools and provided support for hospitals, agricultural projects and the studies of 1,000 university students.
If the international community does not change its approach, more and more Syrians will leave their homes and fewer and fewer of them will return home, Szijjártó warned, saying this would pose a serious security challenge to the region.