Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Brussels should support African coast guards over NGOs that transport migrants, minister says

Brussels should be financing the enhancement of the coast guards in north Africa instead of "NGOs that cooperate with people smugglers and migrants", Peter Szijjarto, the foreign minister, said in Tunis on Monday.
29. April 2024 19:36

Hungary will be taking over the rotating presidency of the European Union in a period fraught with dangers such as the migration pressure faced by the continent, Szijjarto said after talks with Tunisian President Kais Saied, according to a ministry statement.

He said the situation was made worse by Brussels’s “pro-migration policies”, which, he added, were bad for both Europe and north Africa because illegal immigration posed a danger to both transit and destination countries.

“There are two things that need to change in Brussels in order for us to successfully combat migration,” Szijjarto said. “The first is cutting off the funding of NGOs that cooperate with people smugglers and transport migrants.”

“These NGOs move migrants across the Mediterranean; they collude with people smugglers and bring illegal immigrants to Europe for money,” the minister said. “Brussels should be financing north Africa’s coast guards instead of these NGOs.”

“The many tens or hundreds of millions of euros Brussels spends on supporting NGOs could be used to modernise the coast guards of the north African countries, thereby stopping people smugglers and reducing migration pressure,” he said.

Szijjarto said Brussels should also “end its practice of issuing diktats to the African countries”, and instead bring its relations with those countries back to the grounds of mutual respect.

Africa’s population, he said, was on track to grow by an estimated 750 million in the next twenty years, and the continent was in need of significant economic development programmes. But, he warned, if Europe abandoned Africa, it would face “unmanageable humanitarian and security challenges” in the coming years in decades.

“We know full well how big a role the north African line of defence plays in Europe’s defence against migration,” Szijjarto said. “And Tunisia plays a prominent role.”

“We therefore call on the European Union not to interfere in Tunisia’s domestic political affairs and destabilise Tunisia, but to cooperate with it in the fight against migration under a comprehensive partnership agreement and carry out economic developments,” the minister said.

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