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Illegal migration is now posing a serious health risk, minister says

EU must clearly communicate border crossing criteria

The European Union must make it clear that the only way to enter its territory is in a lawful way, or else the migration pressure on Hungary's and Greece's borders will not ease, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said.

Speaking after talks with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias, Szijjarto said that uncontrolled waves of migration posed an even greater danger than before in view of the coronavirus pandemic. On top of earlier security and cultural challenges illegal migration is now posing a serious health risk, too, he said.

Szijjarto voiced regret that the EU’s new migration package “makes the same mistakes as the ones that caused a lot of trouble to Europe in recent years”. The pact is still aimed at managing rather than stemming the waves of migration, he insisted. The goal, he said, should be to stop migration outside the community.

According to the pact, mandatory migrant quotas would be maintained “if under a different name”, which the Hungarian government finds unacceptable, Szijjarto said.

Assisting persecuted Christians, especially in the Middle East, is a crucial, shared goal for Hungary and Greece, Szijjarto said. Parties at the talks agreed to jointly support projects to help Christian communities in Jordan, he added.

Szijjarto and Dendias agreed that people smuggling gangs must be eliminated. Supporting people smuggling and illegal migration is a crime “even if committed by an NGO”, Szijjarto said.

On another subject, Szijjarto said that Hungary supported Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and said he hoped that country’s conflict with Armenia could be settled through negotiations.

Dendias said that no open issues hindered bilateral relations with Hungary, and the two countries could cooperate in the EU in several areas.

Dendias also urged a joint European solution to the migration problem.

Concerning tension with Turkey, Dendias said that conflict was rooted in “Greece’s observing international law while Turkey is violating it”. If Turkey wishes to join the EU it must observe international law and accept the rules of the EU, too, he added.

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