The migration pressure which is bearing down heavy on Hungary is not just a Hungarian but a pan-European issue, to which immediate solutions must be found on a European level, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó stated on Monday in Brussels following the meeting of EU Foreign Ministers.

As the Minister pointed out, the experiences of recent periods demonstrate that, with the advent of the autumn and winter, the migration pressure which is bearing down on Europe will be re-diverted from the Mediterranean to land routes, and we may well observe the doubling of the number of those crossing the borders as of October, and the number of illegal migrants arriving in Hungary may increase to over two hundred thousand by the end of the year.

The Minister told the press that, according to the latest data, 86,485 illegal migrants have arrived in Hungary this year, 99.3 per cent of them (85,856) from the direction of Serbia. He remarked that based on the data of the EU border guarding agency, already in June, more migrants arrived in Europe via the Western Balkans than via the Mediterranean, and most of them are not migrants from a country in the region but come from Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The percentage of migrants coming from Kosovo, for instance, fell to 3 per cent, and consequently the majority of migrants are people who had previously traversed another EU Member State.

Mr Szijjártó took the view that the transit countries are unable to check the flow of migrants, and Greece, too, is facing major challenges and does not have the resources to stop the migrants entering the country illegally.

The Minister said that the conclusions now adopted by EU Foreign Ministers recognise the pressing challenges that migration via the Western Balkans route represent, and take note of the Hungarian offer to host a conference on migration in Budapest.

The Minister also informed the press that they were previously compelled to point out: it is unacceptable for Hungary if no extra information is added to the text in this context in the wake of the decision adopted at the latest EU summit.

„It is unacceptable for us if the European Union does not tackle the pressure coming from the Balkans with the significance it deserves,” Mr Szijjártó stated.

He took the view that while the European Union talks a great deal about the need to adopt a geographically balanced approach, it created the impression on more than one occasion that less attention is being paid to the Balkans route than warranted by the circumstances.

The Minister told the press that he had a bilateral meeting with German Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier, whose support he also requested with the adoption of a truly geographically balanced approach.

Regarding the migration conference which may be held in Budapest, Mr Szijjártó said that no official decision has been reached yet; he pointed out at the same time that he is not aware of any views which may be opposed to the organisation of such a conference in Hungary.

At most, some only call into question whether it is possible to successfully organise such a conference at such short notice. A country which receives 1,300-1,500 illegal migrants daily cannot have any answer other than yes, he added.

Mr Szijjártó said that according to plans EU foreign and internal affairs ministers should have a meeting in Budapest in October, to which representatives of the six Western Balkans transit countries and Turkey would also be invited with a view to creating „hot spots” where EU experts would be able to filter out those eligible for asylum from among the migrants, thereby reducing the pressure of migration.

In addition to the topic of migration, the EU foreign affairs ministers also discussed the agreement concluded with Iran. Mr Szijjártó told the press: Hungary has always supported this process, and welcomes the agreement concluded in Vienna last week. He concluded that the stability of the region has a direct impact on Europe, and no one should frustrate the agreement subsequently.

Mr Szijjártó said that international competition will start for economic cooperation with Iran, and in this department Hungary has already taken the necessary bilateral measures. In answer to a journalist’s question, the Minister said that relations will have to be re-built from scratch. He told the press that Hungary is preparing an action plan of 7 items, but not every item of the action plan is public information on account of the competitive situation which has evolved. He nonetheless informed the press that Hungary is seeking to engage in economic cooperation in the fields of water management, urban operations, engineering services and the automobile industry. Mr Szijjártó said that a Hungarian cultural institute may also be opened in Iran.

The EU foreign ministers further consulted with respect to the situation in Tunisia. The meeting was also attended by the Tunisian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. Mr Szijjártó pointed out that North-Africa likewise has a direct impact on the security of the European region, and additionally some promising democratic processes have taken place in Tunisia which would be important to preserve. The Minister informed the press that the Ministry is not changing the classification of the country for the moment, and continues to regard travel to Tunisia as high risk. Mr Szijjártó further made mention of the fact that the Visegrád countries will in the future coordinate the security classification of the individual countries.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade/MTI)