“In recent years, Brussels has been practicing a policy that promotes immigration through to all intents and purposes giving an invitation to Europe to hundreds and thousands and millions of people with its migration policy, and has put the continent in a totally helpless position”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in a statement to Hungarian news agency MTI on Tuesday on the second day of the Bled Strategic Forum in Slovenia.

“Today, only the agreement between the European Union and Turkey on stopping illegal migration affords any kind of protection”, he added. “If this agreement stops working in future for whatever reason, hundreds and thousands and millions of people will flood into Europe, and in their current form the countries of the Western Balkans will definitely be unable to stop them”, the Minister stressed.

“For this reason, European migration policy must be changed, Brussels’ approach must be changed, and instead of encouraging migration we must finally concentrate on stopping migration, which requires two measures”, he continued.

“First of all, the external borders of the European Union must be protected. Unfortunately, today the situation is that to the south of Hungary the EU has done nothing in the interests of protecting the borders, and has in fact encouraged hundreds of thousands of people to permeate the borders and cross them illegally”, the Minister highlighted, adding that Hungary is currently protecting the EU’s external border. He said that in his opinion instead of declaring open borders the EU should concentrate on protecting the borders.

With relation to the second measure, Mr. Szijjártó mentioned the importance of accelerating the EU integration of the Western Balkan countries. “The faster Serbia and Montenegro can join the EU, the greater the chance that illegal migration can be successfully stopped before it reaches Hungary’s southern border. The integration of the Balkans could in effect mean the pushing of the EU’s south-eastern line of defence further south”, the Minister explained.

“Unfortunately, it is evident that the European institutions and the large Western European member states do not want the integration of the Western Balkan countries to occur for the moment, but this is at odds with Europe’s security interests”, he underlined.

Mr. Szijjártó pointed out that pressure on the countries of the Western Balkans from illegal migration has increased again in recent months. “224 thousand new illegal immigrants arrived in Turkey during the first eight months of this year, which represents an increase of 15 percent. According to information from the Turkish coast guard, the number of illegal immigrants apprehended at sea has increased to an even larger extent, by 63 percent”, the Minister warned.

“According to reports from the Greek authorities, six thousand illegal immigrants have arrived in the Greek islands during the past two months, and last week over 550 arrived in a single day, which is the largest daily number recorded since the EU and Turkey concluded their agreement on stopping illegal migration”, he said.

Mr. Szijjártó held a bilateral meeting on the subject with Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, who is the candidate for the post of the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as well as with Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar, Minister of Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto from Finland, which currently holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union, and with Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean Nasser Kemel.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade/MTI)