Hungary's border fence – Photo: wikipedia

Szijjarto: Europe’s security depends on strict immigration policy

Hungary and Denmark are committed to a strict immigration policy, Peter Szijjarto, the foreign minister, said in Copenhagen at a joint press conference held with Danish counterpart Lars Lokke Rasmussen on Monday, adding that during its EU presidency Hungary would prioritise stopping migration.
16. April 2024 7:14

Szijjarto said improving Europe’s security and competitiveness would be the chief aims of its presidency.

The minister said that as long as Europe continued to act as a magnet to migrants, security challenges would mount up, with organised crime and terrorism gaining ground.

Strict immigration policy, in Hungary’s view, is based on strong border protection and stopping migration instead of managing it, he added.

Migrants, he said, should only be allowed to enter Europe if they are legal, and help should be given at the location of the problem rather than the problem being imported.

Africa’s population, he said, was on track to grow by an estimated 750 million in the next twenty years, and jobs, health care, and education must be made available to these people.

“We’ll find ourselves facing a challenge we’re unable to meet” unless such conditions were provided, the minister said.

Szijjarto hailed Denmark’s immigration policy, saying the country was one of the very few countries in the EU that showed “common sense” on migration.

Meanwhile, he said Hungary and Denmark were both successful export-oriented economies, “so it’s in our common interest that world trade should be free of barriers as well as fair”.

Szijjarto called for the EU to accelerate free trade negotiations with rapidly growing states such as those in South-East Asia.

Also, trade disputes should be resolved on a common-sense basis without mixing them up with ideological issues, he said.

Danish companies, he noted, are among the top 20 foreign investors in Hungary, and the government has concluded strategic partnerships with three of them. Last year bilateral trade turnover hit a record 1.6 billion euros, the minister added.

Responding to questions, Szijjarto said he and Rasmussen had discussed criticisms of the state of the rule of law, “but it is important that Lars Lokke Rasmussen is respectful even when there is a difference of opinion.” At the same time, Szijjarto noted he had not brought up Danish internal affairs.

Szijjarto said he was “proud” of the situation in Hungary. He said the best judges of whether a country was a democracy were its people. Hungarians have voted to allow the ruling government a two-thirds majority in four consecutive elections, “and that mandate shows that it is doing its job well,” Szijjarto said.

Regarding criticism on Hungary’s child protection law, he called on journalists to “read the law before talking about it”. The government continued to see sex education as parents’ exclusive right, he said.

Regarding the war in Ukraine, Szijjarto said neighbouring Hungary “has immediate and grave experience of the negative consequences of the war”, and it has a vested interest in a speedy end to the conflict.

“Clearly, neither parties can win the war, and European politicians counting on Ukrainian victory are wrong,” he said. “We are hoping for peace as soon as possible, a ceasefire and peace talks.”

He also reiterated that Hungary would not back former Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s bid for NATO Secretary-General, because earlier “he talked about bringing Hungary to its knees”.

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