Migration pressure from the Sahel region poses a serious short-term risk to the European Union, which has a vested interest in strengthening the stability of north African states, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Tuesday after meeting Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita alongside Visegrad Group foreign ministers.
Szijjártó told a joint press conference after the talks that the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia together had “successfully stopped the introduction of mandatory resettlement quotas in the EU,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
“Had we not shown strength and unity, tens of thousands of illegal migrants would be living in central Europe right now,” he said.
Central European states maintain that help should be taken where the trouble is, and the root causes of migration should be handled there, Szijjártó said. Europe should also cooperate with states that can contribute to pushing back “European defence lines” as far as possible, he said.
Migration pressure from Africa “has always been a headache”,
and it is expected to strengthen as the causes of migration from the continent pick up, he said. Twelve terrorist organisations are currently active in the Sahel, he noted. The security of the region is deteriorating and economic challenges are exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, he added.
Szijjártó noted that many African countries have extremely low inoculation rates against Covid-19, so new variants were more likely to emerge there, he said.
Illegal migration from the continent is posing a serious health risk for Europe, he said.
The north African region is a key defence line for European security, Szijjártó said.
Morocco, “which has already stopped hundreds of thousands of migrants”, is a key link in that chain, he said. The EU should do everything in its power to help Morocco strengthen border protection and economic development, he said.
“Europe has a vested interest in a strong, stable Morocco capable of stopping migration waves and protecting its own borders,” he said.
Bourita noted the importance of cooperation in the face of challenges such as terrorism, illegal migration and organised crime. Morocco is looking into diversifying its partnerships within the EU, he said.