Berlin (MTI) – Migrants who come to Europe “will never return to their home countries”, Hungary’s foreign minister said in an interview to the Saturday edition of German regional daily Rheinische Post.
If, however, migrants remain near their home countries, then they will go back at some point, Péter Szijjártó told the paper.
Hungary has continuously pushed for three measures that it believes would be more effective in handling the migrant crisis than imposing mandatory migrant redistribution quotas on European Union member states, Szijjártó said.
The first of these measures is the implementation of tighter border controls, the minister said.
Secondly, the EU must provide more financial aid to Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and the Kurdish region of Iraq so those countries can look after the refugees stranded there, he said.
Thirdly, the EU should make changes to the way it allocates aid to other countries. The EU is giving billions of euros of aid to countries that people are fleeing and most migrants arriving in Europe are not coming from warzones or countries where their lives would be under threat, Szijjártó said. Therefore Europe should lay out strict conditions for the distribution of aid to these countries, he said. The governments of these countries should only receive EU aid if they prevent their people from fleeing, he said.
The minister rejected the suggestion that migration could serve as a solution to Europe’s labour shortages and demographic problems. In Hungary’s view, the key to tackling the problem of low birth rates is a better family policy, he said. Szijjártó described the state of the labour market in southern, central and eastern Europe as “tense”, noting that the unemployment rate is over 30 percent in certain regions. Instead of creating new problems, Europe should deal with these existing ones first, he insisted.
Asked about Hungary’s stance on EU-Russia relations, Szijjártó said that as a central European country, Hungary “has no choice” but to apply a “pragmatic” approach to its relations with Russia. “We are dependent on the Russians in a lot of ways” so “we have to talk to them”, he said.
Szijjártó declined to comment on certain EU leaders’ remarks that Russia and the Syrian regime’s airstrikes on Aleppo could be considered war crimes. Europe’s interest lies in a peaceful end to the Syrian conflict and in the current situation this cannot be achieved without Russia, he said.
Asked about France and Germany’s efforts aimed at bringing an end to the fighting in Ukraine, Szijjártó said Hungary was “very grateful”, especially for the efforts of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Szijjártó said that with 150,000 Hungarians living in Ukraine, Hungary was directly affected by the conflict there.
Szijjártó said that although there are no divisions within the EU over Ukraine, there are disagreements over the role of Russia in the conflict. Hungarians do not see Russia as a direct threat but they respect the fact that the people of Poland or the Baltic States may see things differently, he said.