Budapest, September 15 (MTI) – The parliaments of Council of Europe (CoE) member states have a responsibility in dealing with the migration crisis, but there is a lack of consensus on the issue, Hungarian Speaker of Parliament László Kövér said, addressing a CoE conference in Strasbourg on Thursday.
Addressing speakers of parliaments, Kövér said the crisis has shed light more than ever on the inadequacies of the European community and its institutional systems.
“If we are unable to put brakes on this crisis, it could easily mean an end to the European world as it is known today, as it is enjoyed by many,” he said.
Kövér said there is no consensus in Europe on migration, “not on a solution, but not even on what the problem is”. Instead there are decisions which are pushed forward without a consensus to support them, like the European Commission’s migrant resettlement quota plan, he added.
Kövér said the majority of the 1.5 million migrants who have crossed into Europe are, in legal terms, not refugees. Each country has a sovereign right to decide whether or not to accept migrants on its territory. Those states which decide to open their borders to migrants should not be trying to “use legal tricks to distribute excess numbers of migrants to other countries, using blackmail and exerting pressure,” he said.
The position of Hungary’s government is that the wave of illegal migrants in Europe is a threat to the community’s economic, social and political stability and undermines its security while also threatening to tip the continent’s ethnic, cultural and religious balance. Partly as a result of flawed policies, this mass migration will not stop by itself, therefore, it has to be stopped, he said. Hungary’s fence is a good example that borders can be protected and the number of entrants reduced if there is a political will, he added.
On the long-term the solution is firstly to assist efforts to receive and care for refugees in countries neighbouring conflict zones; secondly to set up a screening mechanism for separating refugees from economic migrants and preventing terrorist movements; thirdly to end conflicts as fast as possible, and put an end to destabilising interference by big powers; and last adopting fair international development policies to rebuild war-stricken countries, Kövér said.
Kövér told MTI later in the day that there was a consensus at the conference that the migrant crisis can only be managed in the long term, in a well-thought-out manner and through broader international cooperation.
There was also consensus that the challenges brought about by mass migration could intensify in the future due to climate change and population growth in poor countries, he said.
The conference also showed that there are irreconcilable differences between “certain left-wing western European and central European politicians” about “whether we consider mass immigration an opportunity or a threat,” Kövér said. He said neither Italian lower house president Laura Boldrini nor French National Assembly speaker Claude Bartolone addressed this issue. “But Bartolone did … draw a parallel between the ongoing migrant crisis and the accession of the central European countries to the EU,” he said. Kövér said Austrian MEP Ulrike Lunacek brought up the admission of Hungarian refugees in 1956 and criticised Hungary for not helping migrants today. Kover said both he and Milan Stech, the president of the Czech Republic’s upper house of parliament, rejected that comparison.
Photo: Council of Europe/MTI