Following a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, Minister of State and Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade László Szabó told Hungarian news agency MTI that illegal migration must be stopped outside Europe’s borders.

He also said that the root causes of migration must be eliminated at their point of origin. For this it is vital that the European Union prioritises responses to the state of youth, education and job creation in Africa.

In the Ministry’s statement Mr. Szabó said that at Monday’s meeting there was also discussion of EU-Africa relations, the most important aspects of which continue to be providing humanitarian assistance, development funds and responses to the migration crisis.

Mr. Szabó underlined that within its Southward Opening strategy Hungary is paying special attention to African partners, and is contributing to the continent’s development by increasing development funds and with the Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship programme.

The EU’s Eastern Partnership programme was also discussed at the council meeting, and the participants agreed that cooperation with the partner countries should be continued. It is important, however, that the latter fulfil their obligations and continue reform processes.

The Minister of State stressed that the EU should consider the varying aspirations of certain partners, and “custom-made” cooperation should be sought. He also stated that the Government of Hungary believes that “for interested partners the prospect of EU membership should be kept open”, and described as important “the consolidation of the results achieved so far”.

Also on the agenda was the state of persecuted ethnic and religious minorities in the Middle East, in relation to which Mr. Szabó underlined that Hungary is concerned about the deteriorating situation of Middle Eastern religious minorities – especially Christians, who can be seen as the IS terrorist organisation’s main targets.

The Minister of State also reported on the humanitarian and development funds provided by Hungary to Christians in the region, and he reiterated the significance of the Stipendium Hungaricum programme, as a part of which Hungary offers scholarships to Syrian and Iraqi students.

Mr. Szabó said that before the council meeting member states of the Friends of Ukraine group had held an informal ministerial meeting, which was also attended by Ukrainian foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin. The Minister of State underlined that Hungary supports Ukraine’s European integration process and continues to stand up for the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. He stressed, however, that the process of state formation must not negatively affect the rights and interests of Ukraine’s Hungarian minority.