Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: Clear distinction must be drawn between refugees, migrants

The international community "must finally draw a clear distinction" between refugees and migrants as this would go far in solving "the migration crisis", Peter Szijjarto, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said in Geneva on Monday.
10. October 2023 7:02

The dual pressure Hungary is under from the east and south illustrates the need to distinguish clearly between refugees and migrants, Szijjarto told a meeting of the executive committee of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), according to a ministry statement.

The distinction is based on international law, which grants everyone the right to stay in the first safe country if forced to flee their country. However, they do not have the right to “cross a dozen safe coutries” until they arrive in the location of their choosing, he said.

Hungary has seen over one million refugees arriving from Ukraine since the war started, and has ensured equal access to health care and education to all, and is helping them to find jobs, he said.

At the same time, the situation on the country’s southern border “is outrageous”, because those arriving there crossed several safe countries while violating international law, he said. “They also want to enter Hungary illegally, which is a crime,” he added.

Last year, Hungary recorded 275,000 illegal attempts to cross the border, and 150,000 so far this year, he said.

Further, some people smugglers and migrants, he said, were now armed with automatic weapons and had fired at border guards several times. “This cannot be tolerated; just like the statements of certain politicians that we should put up with it,” he said.

Migration waves are fuelled in Europe by measures that encourage people to leave their countries, boost the “business model” of people smugglers and force sovereign countries to give up their right to decide who they want to allow into the country, Szijjarto said.

Instead, the focus should be on handling the root causes of migration and on creating the circumstances for people to stay in their homelands, he said.

Mandatory redistribution quotas would turn the European Union into a “magnet” for migrants, he warned. “And we all know the consequences. Parallel societies emerge, the terror threat rises, and modern anti-Semitism is growing in the western half of Europe,” he said.

Szijjarto said that whereas all refugees deserved help — “just as Hungary does as a first safe country” — migrants must be stopped.

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