“If the external borders of the European Union are not reinforced, the mass flow of immigrants could lead to the building of walls between Member States”, Minister of Justice László Trócsányi said in an interview for Maltese daily The Times of Malta.

In the interview, which was published in Sunday’s edition of the paper, Mr. Trócsányi defended the Government’s decision to build a fence along its southern border to stop the wave of migrants arriving from Turkey.

“Europe was perhaps naïve in 2015, but now it has had to face reality. We believe in a Schengen Zone with no internal borders, but for it to work properly requires the reinforcement of the European Union’s external borders”, the Minister said.

Mr. Trócsányi, who was in Malta attending an informal meeting of EU justice and interior ministers, stressed. “The fence doesn’t just protect Hungary, it protects the rest of Europe too”. “It is our obligation to protect the external borders. If we do not do enough in the interests of security then we will begin to see the construction of fences between EU Member States”, he warned.

With reference to the criticism that Hungary received for constructing the border security fence, Mr. Trócsányi pointed out that Spain has for many years had a fence reinforced by a wall in its North African enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla.

“Hungary was the Eastern European first country to begin the demolishing of the Iron Curtain in 1989 at the end of the Cold War, and some three decades later it is also the first to close its border with a security fence to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country”, the Times of Malta wrote. With relation to this, Mr. Trócsányi noted that the Hungarians valued the freedom they had achieved after the collapse of the communist system. “The free movement of people within the EU, as set down in the Schengen Agreement, is extremely important to us. This is one of the most important added values of our EU membership. However, the Schengen system also assumes that Europe’s external borders can be suitably controlled”, he declared.

The Maltese newspaper also noted that Hungary and Slovakia have gone to the European Court of Justice because of the European Council’s September 2015 decision to impose mandatory immigrant resettlement quotas. With relation to this, Mr. Trócsányi said that the Council had made the decision based on a qualified majority, which according to Hungary was a mistake, because to all intents and purposes the mechanism amended the regulations of the Dublin Regulation. “Our argument is that the decision should have been adopted unanimously”, he pointed out.

“There are migrants who do not want to live in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary or Poland. They want to go to other EU countries, and this leads to conflict”, the Minister declared, citing as an example the fact that the 21 refugees relocated to Lithuania within the framework of the system “very quickly” ended up in Germany. With relation to this, Mr. Trócsányi also spoke about the fact that in practice the idea of mandatory relocation had essentially failed.

The Hungarian Justice Minister repeated Hungary standpoint according to which the cost of constructing the border security fence may also be regarded as a contribution towards the system aimed at preventing illegal immigration. The offering of university scholarship places to students from the migrants’ country of origin could also be regarded as a similar instrument.

“Hungary agrees with the Maltese presidency of the European Union that receiving centres must be maintained in Egypt, Algeria, Libya and other countries, where migrants can submit their requests for asylum (prior to entering the EU)”, the paper writes.

In reply to a question concerning whether Hungary is worried about the fact that the majority of immigrants are Muslim, the Minister noted that the countries of Central Europe have no colonial experience.

“In contrast to other EU Member States, we have no experience with relation to integrating citizens from outside the European Union. We believe that we must preserve Europe’s Christian roots, but that doesn’t mean that refugees who deserve protection should not receive it”, he declared.

Quoting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr. Trócsányi said that European multiculturalism had not been successful. People who arrived in Europe in the sixties and seventies integrated well, but he is afraid that those who arrived in the latest wave if immigration have a greater interest is preserving the values and norms that differentiate them from the people of Europe, he explained.

According to the Hungarian Justice Minister, the political mainstream cannot brush integration problems under the carpet. “If the political mainstream does not want to talk about this, is allows the far right to fill this vacuum”, he declared.

(Ministry of Interior/MTI)