The Hungarian government unexpectedly vetoed an international convention of the EU with African governments on immigration. Indignation erupted at the EU Ambassadors' meeting on 25 April.
But on 26 April, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto speaking to the European Parliament’s LIBE Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, reminded the EU leadership that they were not elected to their posts.
Szijjarto told the Dutch Liberal representative: “You ask us how we represent the Hungarian people, and what kind of authorization we have. I could also ask you what percentage of the European people voted for you, so that you could lecture the Hungarian people in the name of Europe?”
In a draft report, the committee had concluded that Hungary risks violating EU values, like the “fundamental rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees”.
No EU country had shared the arguments of the Hungarians, and the ambassadors of pro-immigration countries expressed irritation with the Hungarian ambassador, Oliver Varhelyi on the previous day. He was the only EU representative to object to the language of the African agreement, which he said spoke too positively about legal migration.
According to some member states and representatives of several countries, in their view, Hungary wants to undermine the EU’s international authority.
Next Wednesday, a conference will be held in Marrakech, Morocco, where the leaders of the EU and several African countries will be meeting. The main purpose of the cooperation is to give the EU money to Africans to try and block migration.
There is also the program through which illegals returning to Libya from Europe, are paid money to go back home.
A joint statement on the continuation of the co-operation between the EU and African governments has been adopted, and the summit preparation has been going on for a year. The Hungarian government however has said that it would refuse to sign the document on behalf of the EU. On foreign affairs, every member state has a veto right.
The Hungarian government disagrees that migration was emphasized enough, and according to the Hungarians, the document did not make a distinct difference between asylum policy and immigration policy.
In the debate, representatives of the Belgian, Portuguese and Italian Governments have indignantly rejected amendments proposed by the Hungarians last week. The amendments would also have to be agreed with the governments of many African countries, and the EU is saying that it would be impossible to do so in that time. They added that the idea of Hungarians was unacceptable to them.
In the debate, the Ambassadors of Spain, France, Austria and the Finnish Government also protested against the veto. They said it was very bad for EU diplomacy. Whether it is an agreement with a safe third country or transit country, the Hungarian veto would undermine EU prestige in the negotiations, diplomats argued.
Others have been repulsed by the veto of the Hungarian government, which they claim “helps illegal migration” by attacking legal migration. French and German ambassadors lambasted what they described as “regular Hungarian efforts to undermine the EU’s important collective issues”.
Due to the Hungarian government’s last-minute veto, all official references to the EU as a whole must be removed from the agreement.
Instead, the agreement will now be issued in the name of the bloc’s commissioners responsible for foreign affairs and migration.
This is not the first time that Hungary has vetoed collective EU agreements. Recently, it vetoed a joint EU statement condemning Chinese human rights abuses, as well as a proposed joint statement on the UN’s migration discussions.
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