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Hungary Responds To Criticism About Their Temporary Security Border Fence

World Affairs

Open Eyes Opinion {source: HUgov}



The Bavarian newspaper Passauer Neue Presse published an interview with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó under the title  “With genuine refugees there is no need for quotas”.

In answer to the question as to how Hungary is handling the criticisms related to the construction of the temporary security border fence, Mr Szijjártó said that the “greatest challenge” is illegal migration, on which “no effective common stance has been reached yet in Europe”. He added that “we must protect Hungary and the Hungarian population”, and as “we have a Schengen external border, we must also protect the whole of Europe”.

The Minister highlighted that it is necessary to differentiate between “refugees and economic refugees”. Hungary has always provided shelter for “genuine refugees”; however, “we do not accept economic refugees”, Mr Szijjártó pointed out.

The number of migrants has already exceeded 100,000, and from among all EU Member States, migrants are arriving in Hungary in the largest number. As a result, “there was no other solution but the construction of a physical obstacle”, the Minister said, pointing out that there is dual pressure on Hungary as the migrants leaving Hungary may be sent back on the basis of the EU regulations.

“We are in a trap”, Mr Szijjártó said.

Regarding a question relating to the Hungarian stance which rejects mandatory migrant quotas, the Minister said that refugees should be taken away from Hungary, rather than returned here; “this is why we say no” to the quota system.

In answer to the question whether the campaign, based on which – it seems – Hungary does not at all wish to have anything to do with refugees reflects a European mentality, Mr Szijjártó said that Hungary has always offered shelter to those persecuted for political or religious reasons in the past, and will continue to proceed in the same manner also in the future; but “we do not talk about this quite so loudly on our own turf” as it “may jeopardize receptiveness”.

The Minister pointed out: economic migrants are creating a problem for Europe which “it is unable to resolve”. The solution “lies outside Europe”, and “we, the countries of Europe send aid in the magnitude of billions to the countries of origin of these economic migrants”; we do so “without setting the containment of migration as a condition”. This must be changed, and “we should not talk about quotas but about how to resolve the problems locally”, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade stressed.

“As regards genuine refugees, there is no need for quotas: we are happy to provide shelter for them in Hungary”, Mr Szijjártó said.

Concerning the criticisms levelled by Europe and the United States at Hungary in recent years, the Minister said: Hungary is a “European democracy”, and it is not true that the media or the opposition are in any way suppressed. He added: “it is difficult to fight against prejudices” as one cannot have a discussion about prejudices. At the same time, the Government is willing to talk about “specifics” at any time.

Mr Szijjártó highlighted that the measures adopted by the Government enjoy robust popular support, and Hungary “has done its homework”. Hungary has the second highest growth rate, the sovereign debt is on the decrease, and the deficit of the budget is below 3 per cent, despite the fact that the situation was more dramatic in Hungary in 2010 than in Greece. “Instead of constantly criticizing us, everyone should take a look at how far we have come”, Mr Szijjártó said.

Regarding the debate on the death penalty, he said: the Government made it clear that it is not planning to reinstate the death penalty in any form. And as regards the fact that Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission recently welcomed Prime Minister Viktor Orbán with the greeting “Hello, dictator”, the Minister took the view that these words reflect on the person who said them. Viktor Orbán is a “true democrat” who “did not win his office on the lottery” but in democratic elections, Mr Szijjártó remarked.

In the context of relations with Russia and the crisis in Ukraine, the Minister stressed that Hungary supports Ukraine “very intensively”; at the same time, Hungary covers 85 per cent of its natural gas consumption from Russian sources, and Russia was its second most important trade partner. Due to the sanctions, Russian exports decreased to one half, but Hungary adheres to the common European decisions.

He added that Europe can only be competitive if the western and eastern halves of the continent cooperate. He reiterated that German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged the development of a common economic area extending from Lisbon to Vladivostok. The Minister highlighted that he regards this as a “constructive guiding idea” for the future. He added that the borders and sovereignty of States must not be violated.

Regarding the prospects of Hungary’s accession to the eurozone, the Minister pointed out that EU membership conveys the obligation of joining the eurozone; at the same time, a country which enters the community of EU Member States using the common currency “prematurely” is a threat to the entire zone, and Hungary must further gain in strength and reach social consensus on the issue of the introduction of the euro.


[photo credits: “Budavári Palota 1” by Lajos82 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –]



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