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Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto. Screenshot from BBC interview

Hungary to rejects migrant redistribution quotas despite Italy’s decision

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Sunday that all decisions leading to the opening of European borders to migrants were regrettable, including the Italian government’s.

Published: September 18, 2019, 11:26 am

    Budapest

    Hungary will continue to defend its borders and reject the fresh attempt to exert pressure on member states to approve the migrant quota which shows that the mandatory distribution mechanism is still on the agenda, Szijjarto said. “We reject it”, he said.

    The Italian government’s decision to open the country’s borders to illegal migrants is regrettable and dangerous, Szijjarto told public news channel M1. What’s more, after letting in masses of illegal migrants, they aim to distribute them among European Union member states, he explained.

    Official Greek figures show that some 224 000 migrants arrived in the first seven months of this year, he said. The situation is exactly like it was in 2015, Europe is in danger and the Italian decision is an invitation to those who plan to head for Europe, he added.

    The only clear dividing line in Europe is between the opponents and supporters of illegal migration, Szijjarto said.

    “Hungary will not accept any type of quota and will defend its borders by all means,” he said.

    The Foreign Minister has labelled the European Union’s border agency Frontex a “travel agency” for migrants. External borders should also be protected he said.

    Szijjarto called the EU “aimless” on this issue in comments reported by German daily Die Welt: “Frontex is a travel agency. Rather, those countries that have an external EU border should also protect them.”

    He said that Hungary “pursued the policy of common sense, even if we are criticised for it. There are still unfair criticisms of Hungary and distorted representations of domestic developments. But we note with approval that European approval has grown in favour of our position on the refugee issue”.

    Frontex was also singled out by National Rally leader Marine Le Pen in May when she said that “the EU is a toxic accelerator of massive immigration and Frontex is the reception, support and distribution agency”.

    Former Austrian Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache, who was forced to resign in the wake of the “Ibiza affair” earlier this year, has called Frontex a “people-trafficking organisation”.

    Hungary has been facing an Article 7 procedure which could see the country stripped of voting rights and sanctioned after allegations about lacking press freedom, too much corruption, and issues on the rule of law.

    “It is a fact that the current rule of law is characterised by double standards. Budapest is criticised for alleged violations of the constitution, while Finland, for example, does not even have a constitutional court,” the minister said.

    He went on to add: “We have experienced in Hungary that whenever leftists or liberals do not win, the result is defamed as undemocratic. Obviously it does not matter to our critics that we win election after election in an unobjectionable manner. The two-thirds majority did not fall to us in the lottery!”

    Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga met with her European counterparts Monday to defend Hungary’s judicial system and freedom of expression a year after the European Union began the Article 7 process, French daily Le Figaro reported.

    Varga has slammed the proceedings saying: “I came here to defend Hungary. And I expect Member States to stand on the basis of law when scrutinising Hungary. I expect them to avoid double standards, I expect them to prove that this procedure is not a political witch hunt.”

    Poland’s State Secretary for EU Affairs Konrad Szymański questioned linking the rule of law with EU funding. Poland is expected to support the Hungarian government and veto sanctions as the vote requires unanimous consent from all EU member states.

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