Hungary gears up for EU presidency, calls for action on illegal immigration

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, left, welcomes Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, right, with honour guards in Vienna, Austria, Thursday, July 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Theresa Wey)
By John Cody
3 Min Read

Hungary has begun consultations with fellow member states in preparation for its rotating EU Council presidency in the second half of the year, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in Vienna after talks with his Austrian counterpart, Alexander Schallenberg.

This series of consultations was launched in Vienna because Austria can be counted on to support the Hungarian presidency and Hungarian national interests in two important objectives: the fight against illegal migration and the acceleration of EU enlargement toward the Western Balkans, he added.

On the issue of illegal migration, he stated that “Austria is among the EU countries that are clearly speaking out and taking action against it. And so are we Hungarians. We have already made it clear on numerous occasions that Brussels needs a sharp change of policy to stop illegal migrants, not to attract them.”

Hungary’s foreign minister stated that his country has gained a lot of experience in this respect while protecting its own and the EU’s southern border. If the country had not spent billions of euros on this, as many as 100,000 illegal migrants stopped at the Hungarian border would all be living in Europe, further worsening security, increasing the threat of terrorism, and exacerbating the risk of the emergence of dual societies.

Hungary’s aim is to ensure that European legislation finally respects international law, according to which refugees may temporarily reside in the first safe country, he stressed.

Szijjártó recalled that Hungary is the first safe country to admit anyone fleeing the war in Ukraine, while those who come from the south, from very far away, have no right to enter, as they have passed through at least three to five safe countries on their way into Europe.

“Only the Hungarians have the right to decide who they let in and who they are willing to live with,” he said.

He added that a sharp political change is needed in Brussels to ensure that the EU does not import the problems of the world but helps to solve these problems within the foreign countries exporting their citizens to Europe.

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