Border protection is both a “national and European duty” and it is not only national laws but the Schengen pact, too, that defines this duty, Gergely Gulyás, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office, said on Wednesday. But this does not change the fact that Hungary and other EU member states must carry out border protection “rather than some EU authority”, he added.
Gulyás said at a weekly government press briefing that border protection was an “issue of sovereignty”, and Hungary “insists on performing that task”.
He argued that Frontex could not ensure the same degree of protection, even with a larger headcount.
Concerning the European Parliament’s recently adopted Sargentini report on the rule of law in Hungary, Gulyás said it was “witch hunt in a political disguise”. According to the government “the legal charges in the report do not exist” and the document “raises closed issues”, Gulyás said. The Hungarian government is “being attacked” by “pro-migration” forces in the EP because of the government’s migration policy, he insisted.
Meanwhile, on the topic of Britain’s exit from the EU, he said Hungary wanted a “fair” Brexit deal and it was important that ties between the EU and Britain should stay “as close as possible”. He also quoted the British home secretary as saying that Hungarians working in the UK need not have any fears, even if no deal is reached.
Referring to Ukraine, the minister said that the situation was “serious”. Ahead of elections in that country “many hope to gain votes through anti-minority, anti-Hungarian moves” and it “gives cause for concern about the future,” Gulyás said, but added that Ukraine Hungarians could count on the Hungarian government’s support, and ethnic kin “wishing to come to Hungary in the current situation will be more than welcome”.
Answering a question, Gulyás said that his Fidesz party will run in the upcoming EP elections as a member of the European People’s Party.
Concerning a recent dispute with Guy Verhofstadt, head of the Liberal group in the EP, Gulyás said that the controversy was “not about Verhofstadt’s position on migration” but if that position “should be considered when a member state makes its decisions”. “Hungary will not tell another member state how to decide on migration and it will expect similar treatment from others,” Gulyás said.
Answering a question about the House of Fates Holocaust museum, Gulyás said that though the government has involved Jewish organisation EMIH in the project, it “continues to take responsibility for the content of the exhibition”. The government wishes to “appropriately pay tribute to the national tragedy of the Holocaust and acknowledges the responsibility of the Hungarian state”. The Hungarian state had been “unable to protect the victims and participated in their deportation”, Gulyás said.
He added that “despite all its inhumane laws Hungary had been more of a haven than a site of persecution before 1944”.
Featured image: Gergely Botár/kormany.hu