Too early to start tearing down border fences, Hungary’s foreign minister tells German daily
Berlin, April 6 (MTI) – It would be too early to start tearing down border fences throughout Europe, regardless of the EU-Turkey migrant deal, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó told German language business daily Handelsblatt in an interview on Wednesday.
The agreement with Turkey is very important, but Europe cannot rely on it as the sole measure to end the migrant crisis, Szijjártó said.
Europe should continue strengthening its external borders and at the same time cooperate with Libya, Jordan and the Kurdish region of Iraq, he said. The EU must make sure that countries it provides aid to do not become sending countries in the migrant crisis.
Szijjártó said there were 30 to 35 million people living in war zones or extreme poverty in Europe’s neighbouring regions who could decide to set off for the continent at any given time. This means migration will be a long-term challenge for Europe, and it must be prepared for more migration waves and migrants finding new routes into the EU, he said.
Hungary finds it unacceptable that certain people believe they can cross the country’s border whenever or wherever they please, the minister said.
Szijjártó said he found it particularly “shocking” that certain European leaders criticised other EU member states for respecting the bloc’s laws.
Asked if he was referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Szijjártó declined to mention names.
Szijjártó said that before starting construction on the border fence, Hungary had asked the relevant EU authorities whether member states could derogate from some of their legal obligations in “emergency situations”, but was told that it was to continue observing all EU regulations regardless of the massive inflow of migrants. Hungary was therefore left with no choice but to erect a fence on its border to stem the migration flow, he insisted.
Mass migration also increases the threat of terrorism, the minister said. “Obviously not all migrants are terrorists, but when there are thousands of migrants arriving unchecked on a daily basis, there is an increased danger that some of the entrants have bad intentions.”
Asked whether he understood the criticism Hungary had received for its handling of the crisis, the minister noted that the Hungarian government had been saying from the start of the crisis that “most migrants are economic migrants”. These migrants are not simply fleeing war zones, but are determined to get to Germany, he said. Fleeing war is a basic human right, but nobody has the right to choose which safe country they wish to flee to, he added.
Asked if Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s upcoming informal meeting with former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was intended to weaken Merkel, Szijjártó said Orbán and Kohl had had a very good relationship for years and would be discussing the EU and Europe’s ongoing challenges and future.
Commenting on the stance that Orban’s meeting last year with Bavarian premier and CSU leader Horst Seehofer could also be seen as a move against Merkel, Szijjártó said Hungary has historical ties to Bavaria, the federal state being Hungary’s number one economic partner in Germany.