“We must assure that illegal immigrants do not interpret the European Union’s Mediterranean mission as an invitation”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in a statement to Hungarian news agency MTI from Vienna on Friday, where he is attending a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

“Although the extension of the European Union’s Mediterranean mission was included on the agenda of the second day of talks, the discussion soon turned into a debate about migration”, he added.

“The mandate of the European Union’s Mediterranean mission expires this December. Its task is to suppress Mediterranean people smuggling networks. A general agreement seems to be developing with relation to the fact that the mission should continue after December, but in a way that illegal immigrants should not regard it as an invitation or rescue mission”, the Minister explained.

“The mission should not be an operation to transport migrants to European ports, but we must instead stick to the mission’s original mandate, which was to curb illegal immigration”, he continued.

Mr. Szijjártó also said that a heated debate had developed between two groups of member states with relation to the question of whether illegal immigration can be stopped at sea. “The debate within the EU on whether the process can be physically prevented on land or sea has been going on for three and a half years. Hungary has proven that it can be stopped on land”, he declared.

“At the meeting, representatives from certain member states declared that there will always be immigration, and that it is an infinite process that cannot be stopped, and accordingly they are pushing for mandatory resettlement. The Hungarian standpoint is clear, however: not only can the land routes be closed, but so too can the maritime routes, and we must indeed close them”, the Hungarian Foreign Minister said.

“The Hungarian position is also unequivocal with regard to the fact that it must be made clear: it is not worth setting out for Europe be sea because nobody can afford to allow illegal immigrants to enter the continent via any European port. Ports must also be handled like land border crossing points”, he added.

“In other words: they can only be crossed legally and in accordance with regulations. Until Europe fails to make this clear, the problem of illegal immigration will remain with us”, the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade underlined.