Hungary's border fence – Photo: wikipedia

Szijjarto: Migrants, human smugglers using automatic weapons against border guards ‘unacceptable’

The new situation involving certain migrants and human smugglers opening fire on Hungarian border guards with automatic weapons "is unacceptable", the foreign minister said in Geneva on Tuesday.

The ministry cited Peter Szijjarto telling a meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations International Organisation for Migration (IOM) that Hungary had first-hand knowledge of illegal migration, as it is located on the external border of the European Union, on one of the busiest migrant routes through the Western Balkans.

He said Hungary’s experience showed that migration posed dangers both to transit countries and target countries, as new arrivals “regularly violate borders” and “refuse to cooperate with the authorities”.

“International legal regulations must be respected by everyone and these regulations clearly define who qualifies as a refugee,” he said, adding that persecuted people were eligible for temporary asylum in the first safe state they entered. But this did not mean they were allowed to illegally cross the borders of safe countries to reach a destination of their choice, he added.

Hungary, he noted, had allowed 1.1 million people from Ukraine to cross the border. But the situation was not the same at the southern border, he said, further arguing that migrants had already crossed a number of safe countries and were therefore considered as illegal migrants ineligible for asylum.

Szijjarto said the situation was steadily deteriorating, with 275,000 illegal border crossing attempts having been registered last year, and almost 200,000 this year.

He said the use of automatic weapons against border guards and police on several occasions had been clear “criminal acts” and appropriate action must be taken against the perpetrators.

“People should not be encouraged to set foot towards Europe and risk their lives,” the minister said. “The business model of human smugglers must be destroyed, and efforts should be focused on handling the root causes of illegal migration.”

Szijjarto said armed conflicts should be increasingly directed towards peaceful settlement, and the development of poor areas must be promoted with investments. Taking into consideration environmental protection concerns was also important, he added.

Hungary, he said, had been doing its share while fighting against mandatory settlement quotas. It has implemented development and support schemes in Africa valued at 200 million dollars, while 1,425 African students can study in Hungarian universities with scholarships, he said.

Also, Hungary had been among the few countries in the world able to reduce emissions while boosting its economic performance, he said.

He confirmed that the government was ready to continue cooperation in the management of the root causes of migration in order to help as many people as possible to live safely in their home instead of being forced to leave.

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