Szijjarto: Europe, Africa should step up anti-terrorism cooperation
Speaking at the local United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), Peter Szijjarto said European security was the weakest since the cold war, having to face a war in Ukraine and one in Israel amid a growing threat of terrorism.
Europe has also seen a “massive flood of immigrants” in the past eight years, he said. Hungary thwarted 230,000 illegal entry attempts last year and 173,000 so far this year, he said. He slammed the EU migration policy as “irresponsible” for “practically encouraging illegal immigration and handling the protection of external borders as a human rights issue rather than a security one.
“We Hungarians see a robust and strict border protection as a necessity, an issue of sovereignty as well as security. We consider illegal entries as a crime and an attack on our sovereignty.”
Szijjarto said terrorism and the “massive migration waves” created a vicious circle. Terrorism is both a root cause and consequence of migration, as terrorists may hide in the masses to travel around the world, he said. The foreign minister said illegal migration had resulted in growing threat of terrorism, creating “parallel societies” in several European countries, “no-go zones where the police can’t keep the order, and gang wars have become more frequent.”
Hungary has a vested interest in a successful fight against terrorism due to the double security challenge it is facing, one posed by the war in Ukraine and one through migration along the Western Balkan route, he said.
At the same time, the fight against terrorism is a global responsibility, he said, saying it was “unacceptable” that the UN covered only 3 percent of UNOCT’s budget, expecting member states to make up the rest.
He said he supported the Secretary-General’s proposal to increase funding.
Budapest is home to the second largest UNOCT office employing 24 experts, Szijjarto said. Hungary is also part of a programme aiming to filter out potential terrorists, he added.
The fight against terrorism cannot succeed without Africa, and European security starts with that of Africa, he said.
Minister hails Morocco’s role in fight against migration
Unlike the European Union with its “irresponsible policies”, Morocco is a partner Hungary can continue to rely on in the fight against illegal migration, Szijjarto said.
With the multitude of security challenges faced by Europe, Hungary greatly appreciates its partners that can contribute to improving the situation, rather than make it worse, Szijjarto told a joint press conference with his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita, according to a ministry statement.
There are armed conflicts on the continent as well as in its direct neighbourhood, while migration pressure is continuously rising and becoming increasingly difficult to manage because of the EU’s “completely irresponsible” policy, Szijjarto said.
He said the EU this year saw a record number of illegal entry attempts on its external borders, adding that Hungary, too, had registered 173,000 illegal border crossing attempts since the beginning of the year.
“Brussels’s migration policy is an irresponsible one, so we can’t rely on Brussels,” he said. “We’re very lucky to be able to rely on north African countries that pursue responsible security policies, such as Morocco.”
“We consider Morocco a bastion of defence of European security,” Szijjarto said. “We owe Morocco our gratitude for its efforts to keep migration at bay, the steps it has taken in the interest of the region’s stability, and . because of its firm actions against terrorism.”
“Peace and security in Africa are a fundamental prerequisite for peace and security in Europe,” the minister said.
Migration towards Europe, he said, could only be halted if its root causes were eliminated. This, he added, was another reason why it was important for Hungary and Morocco to cooperate in bolstering Africa’s security, fighting terrorism and developing the economy.
Szijjarto said migration needed to be stopped, rather than encouraged, praising the cooperation between Hungary and Morocco.
He said bilateral cooperation was based on mutual respect. “The reason why this could be established is because we are two sovereign countries that pursue sovereign foreign policies and put their national interests first, don’t give in to pressure, attempts at interference, or the pressure applied by the international liberal mainstream,” he added.
Turning to economic cooperation, Szijjarto welcomed that Morocco had become Hungary’s top trading partner in Africa. Bilateral trade turnover came close to a record 300 million dollars last year, and has grown by 36 percent this year, he said.
Also, some 1,300 Moroccan students applied this year for the 165 scholarships offered for studies at universities in Hungary, he added.