Strengthening Egypt is in the European Union’s “vital interest”, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said after a meeting of representatives of the Visegrad Group and Egypt in Budapest on Tuesday.
Orbán told a press conference held jointly with Slovak counterpart Eduard Heger, Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi that migration was much worse now than in 2015, and the EU could not cope without external allies such as Egypt, “one of the most obvious allies”.
At the meeting, Morawiecki reported on the migration pressure at Poland’s eastern border, Orbán said, adding that the pressure on Hungary’s southern border was also increasing.
“We are beseiged,”
the prime minister said, adding that if Egypt cannot pursue its current policies to rein in migration towards Europe, “we will all be in great trouble”. Egypt not only needs its border controls reinforced, the country’s economy should also be stabilised so that “local youth are offered opportunities of a good life,” Orbán said, adding that it was also in Europe’s interest.
Orbán called on the EU to convene the EU/Egypt Association Council as soon as possible, accept Egypt as a strategic partner and approve its proposals against terrorism.
He proposed that the EU adopt Egypt’s list of terrorists and terrorist organisations, and suggested that European restrictions preventing Egypt from purchasing equipment for border protection should be lifted.
Orbán said that
no ship carrying illegal migrants had left the coasts of Egypt since 2016. “If there is a will and good leadership, migration at sea can be restricted or even prevented.”
Talks will continue in the afternoon, focusing on economic cooperation, Orbán said, adding that such cooperation was a Hungarian priority.
Hungary’s Eximbank has opened a separate chapter to ensure that “Hungary not only exports goods but sets up factories in Egypt”. Such businesses could offer jobs to local youth, while Hungary could also contribute to European efforts aimed at stabilising the Egyptian economy in the long run, he added.
Orbán also said that
the Egyptian president’s visit was an honour, adding that “ties are friendly and brotherly”.
There are no open issues between Hungary and Egypt and the two countries “benefit a lot from good bilateral ties especially in terms of the economy”, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said after meeting his Egyptian counterpart in Budapest on Monday.