The migration pressure in the Sahel region poses a serious security risk for the European Union in the short term, and therefore the strengthening of stability in North Africa must be supported, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said on Tuesday at a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Visegrád Four (V4) and Morocco.
According to the ministry’s statement, at the joint press conference, the Hungarian foreign minister praised above all the Visegrád cooperation, which has succeeded in preventing the introduction of mandatory EU resettlement quotas.
„If we had not shown strength and unity, tens of thousands of illegal migrants would be here in Central Europe today”
– he said.
The minister stressed that the continent is now under unprecedented migratory pressure from three directions at the same time, and a mechanism for the distribution of arrivals, mandatory quotas, „is still on the agenda in Brussels, although they are now trying to call it by different names.”
Szijjártó further emphasized:
The central European position is to get help to where the trouble is, to tackle the root causes and to work with countries that can help push the European line of defense as far away as possible.
The Hungarian FM said that migration pressure from Africa to Europe „has always been a headache” and will become even more so in the coming months as the root causes continue to worsen. Armed conflicts, terrorism and economic challenges are worsening in some parts of Africa and the coronavirus epidemic has made the situation worse, he said.
He pointed out that many countries on the neighboring continent have extremely low vaccination coverage, which is conducive to the emergence of newer virus variants. This, coupled with migration flows, poses a serious health risk for Europe, which is why stopping illegal immigration via the southern route has become even more important today.
As he said,
with 12 terrorist organizations operating in the Sahel, the security situation is deteriorating, with some surveys indicating that more than 70 percent of the population want to leave the region.
He said that Europe’s security now depends more than ever on the North African region as an important line of defense. Its strength depends on the stability of the states in the region, and Morocco is a key country that has already stopped hundreds of thousands of migrants on its territory. The EU should therefore give all possible support to protect its borders and develop its economy and stop making declarations that could be interpreted as invitations, he said.
„A strong, stable Morocco, capable of stopping the flow of migration and defending its borders, is a vital security interest for Europe”
– Szijjártó underlined.
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Burita spoke about the importance of developing cooperation to tackle common challenges, such as terrorism, illegal immigration and organized crime. He also stressed that his country is seeking to diversify its partnerships within the EU.
In response to a journalist’s question on the Hungarian government’s planned land purchases in Slovakia, Péter Szijjártó stressed that bilateral relations have never been as good as they have been in recent times. Pozsony (Bratislava) had made a request in connection with a fund for the purchase of agricultural land, which the government granted, he said, adding that the better the cooperation between the two countries, the better off Hungarians in the Highlands would be.