“The New York Times (NYT) editors really still don’t get the migration crisis”, Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács wrote in his blog in reaction to an op-ed published in the paper last week claiming that Hungary is making Europe’s migrant crisis worse.

According to Mr. Kovács, it is admittedly difficult to grasp this “indisputably difficult problem” from the comforts of Midtown Manhattan, but if we’re going to have a serious conversation about it, we all need to understand some basic facts. “A country that is unable to protect its borders is no country at all”, he wrote, quoting Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

“The Orbán Government has built a fence on the southern border of Hungary because it is also an external border of the European Union’s Schengen Area. It was not simply ‘to tighten his border’, as the U.S. daily states, but to defend Europe and uphold treaty obligations, which include preventing illegal immigration into the EU’, he points out.

“Maintaining the security and integrity of the borders of the Schengen Area, the borderless zone that allows freedom of movement, is essential to the EU’s security and the workings of the internal market. That’s a key point here”, Mr. Kovács wrote in reaction to the NYT editorial, stressing: “Strong and secure borders are not making the migration crisis worse. On the contrary!”

“It is weak, undefended borders that are aggravating the crisis by creating a ‘pull factor’, encouraging migrants to set out on the dangerous journey. It’s the failure to secure the borders that has fuelled an industry of human trafficking that preys on migrants. And it’s the failure to secure the external borders that has led to hundreds of thousands of migrants illegally entering the territory of the EU”, the Government Spokesperson wrote in his blog.

“Prime Minister Orbán has been arguing since the early days of the migration crisis that the EU should step up efforts to provide aid directly to the territories immediately affected by conflict. The Prime Minister was among the first European leaders to propose assistance to those EU member states that cannot meet their border protection responsibilities and, furthermore, to set up processing centres in hotspots outside the territory of the EU in countries like Libya to receive migrants, an idea that President Emmanuel Macron now also promotes”, he points out.

“Hungary’s securing of one of the external borders of the 510 million-strong European community to ease the migration pressure on the old continent is a meaningful demonstration of our solidarity, and it’s helping to bring the migration crisis under control.

If you don’t believe me, ask a citizen of Austria or Germany what they think of the fence we built on Europe’s border”, says Mr. Kovács, according to whom “proposals that would effectively bring this ‘difficult problem’ to the territory of Europe – proposals like Brussels’ mandatory migrant resettlement quota – are making the migration crisis worse because they will continue to encourage illegal migration”.

“We also need to get something straight about what the NYT casually refers to as international law and European values, language that appeals to the ‘limousine liberal’ readership of the Times”, the Government Spokesperson wrote, pointing out: “There is no international law, no European treaty that gives Brussels the authority to decide on immigration. Hungary acknowledges last week’s decision of the European Court of Justice, but, as Prime Minister Orbán said last week, ‘we also contest the policy of Brussels that wants to settle anyone in a Member State against the will of the nation states’. Only Hungary has the right to decide on who gets to live in Hungary”.

“Here in the real world, on the front lines of the migration crisis, an overwhelming majority of Hungarian citizens want their own government – not Brussels – to make decisions on immigration (and the same is true for most European citizens). As a government responsible for the safety and security of Hungarian citizens – as well as the citizens of Europe – we will not apologize for continuing to assert our right to make our own decisions on immigration and to keep Europe’s borders strong”, Mr. Kovács wrote in his blog.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)