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Orbán Viktor: Brüsszel hazudott a szankciókról

Péter Szijjártó: Brussels’ migration policy is harmful and dangerous

TÓTH LORETTA
2022.07.09. 21:57 2022.07.09. 22:18
Péter Szijjártó: Brussels’ migration policy is harmful and dangerous

“Every war ends with negotiations – for now, we see no sign of these yet. Thus, we can assume that this war is not going to end any time soon,” Péter Szijjártó told Magyar Nemzet. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade commented on the neighboring armed conflict, the migration pressure at the southern border, and Hungarian-Polish relations.

Of all the Hungarian ministers, you are one of the most active on social media; alongside pictures, you also post brief videos and live press conferences allowing viewers to catch a glimpse of everyday life in Hungarian diplomacy. Do you personally consider this direct form of communication important, or is it required by the office?

I have actually progressed quite a bit in this sense – for a long time, I was against the online world. This ended in the beginning of 2020 and since then, I am on Facebook and Instagram. As the communications director of Fidesz from 2006 to 2010 and then as the Prime Minister’s spokesperson from 2010 to 2012, we were accustomed to a dramatically different communications environment – evidenced by the fact that after a few weeks following the launch of my Facebook page, a friend remarked that he was not even aware I work as much as I do. Yet, before appearing on social media, I worked just as much as I do now.

Today however, if you do not broadcast your message via social media, then you reach far fewer people, and informing citizens is an important task of mine, so it has become a useful tool.

I have come to peace with it, though I certainly will not be sucked into the world of social media. I still hold the distinction between the virtual and real world quite important.

You started your week with a visit to Subotica (Szabadka) where two groups of migrants were shooting at each other last Saturday. Multiple people were injured, one of them even died. What did you experience there?

Naturally, locals are restless but I do not think this is all that surprising – if thousands of illegal migrants were walking around our streets, we would be restless as well. In fact, this would be the case in Hungary if in 2015 we had not continuously fought for our position, if we had just subsided to the European mainstream and we had not spent so much money and resources on protecting the southern border with military, police forces, and the fence we built in the past few years.

Then, these aggressive illegal immigrants, incapable of assimilating and ignoring all our laws and norms, would be wandering here amongst us as well – and as we see in Western Europe, posing quite a danger to society.

Two weeks ago, in the Spanish enclave of Melilla, migrants stormed the border town. What can we conclude from this?

Generally, migrants have reached a new level of aggression. They are armed, or someone has armed them, and they are not afraid to make use of that. In the recent past, several aggressive incidents have occurred on the Hungarian border. For example, at the Wednesday government meeting, Minister of the Interior Sándor Pintér showed us footage of migrants clearly equipped with weapons only one-two meters from the border fence, shooting glass balls from slingshots, and throwing stones at police officers… These can cause very serious injuries. Thus, now is the time for all of those encouraging and organizing these waves of migration to self-reflect. Because right now it seems that NGOs connected to Brussels and the Soros-network are organizing this while also encouraging migrants to start off for Europe.

Everything we see at the southern border is due to Brussels and the Soros NGOs because if Brussels had a clear position on migration, then fewer would leave their homes; and if George Soros’ network was not financing these organizations supporting migration, then it would be much easier to incapacitate human traffickers.

Last week, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that Lithuania violated EU law when it protected its borders last year against massive illegal migration from Belarus. Based on this, it seems that Brussels will continue to advocate for an unchanged migration policy…

I find this decision bewildering because not only is it the right of every country to defend themselves and the EU border, but it is also their obligation. Lithuania is also at the edge of the EU; thus, they defended not only themselves but the entire EU by protecting their borders. We encourage all countries like Lithuania and Hungary that are under siege to resist mass migration by erecting physical barriers; without this, it is impossible to effectively defend your borders. Concerning Brussels – not only has their immigration policy not changed, but they have further aggravated the situation: the Cotonou agreement established last year with 79 African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries essentially inspired more migration to Europe. This is very harmful and dangerous, and in terms of Europe’s future, this is a fatal flaw. Not to mention that we Hungarians have found ourselves in the very middle of global processes – as we have been before, several times throughout history. We are essentially the only European country to be under this kind of doubled pressure: refugees coming from the East who we are obliged to accept, and illegal immigrants from the South, who we are obliged to keep outside the external borders of the EU.

These are two basic European obligations that we must fulfill without any kind of support; meanwhile, we are the only country along with Poland, that has not yet received any concrete form of EU funds allotted to us. This is a clearly unsustainable situation.

The war has put Hungarian diplomacy in a difficult position since, in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian war, we cannot ignore Hungarian-Ukrainian relations: on one hand the Ukrainian laws inhibiting Transcarpathian Hungarians, and on the other, the aggressive rhetoric from Ukrainian leadership directed at the Hungarian government. The latter was especially intense since the outbreak of the war.

Before the war, Ukrainian-Hungarian relations were quite strained… This was due to the fact that essentially, week-by-week Ukrainian laws were hindering the rights of the Hungarian minority there. And we asked them to not do this. We did not ask them to award Transcarpathian Hungarians extra rights, just to not take away what they had until now. When the war broke out, we put this issue on hold because obviously tensions in our bilateral relations should not be brought up in wartime situations. But we do need to settle this issue with Ukraine – of course, we will only have the opportunity to do this after the war. However, in regard to their statements – that can really only be characterized as dishonest. And I say this despite the fact that we Hungarians understand that they are currently in a war; we also understand that their country was attacked. But we have clearly stated our position on this. As we have said many times, we condemn the aggression, we condemn the Russian military attack on Ukraine. Not to mention the fact that we are currently implementing Hungary’s largest-scale humanitarian aid efforts in our history. At this time, we have accepted over 830,000 refugees. Of course, we do not expect a country that is at war, losing hundreds of lives a day to say thank you. That is not why we are doing this.

We are simply doing this because it is right. However, at the same time it is still a bit much that they are unscrupulously accusing and attacking us. We must firmly reject this and make our voice heard. Thus, we respectfully ask our Ukrainian colleagues to put a stop to this.

As we speak, we are at day 133 of the war. Thus far, neither side is giving in: there is no ceasefire nor peace talks on the horizon. What scenarios do you foresee?

I am not a fortune teller – to be frank, you would have to be one to predict what will happen here. Currently, colleagues far more experienced than I have no idea what is going to happen. We do see however that this war will not end anytime soon.

After all, every war ends with negotiations and for now, we see no sign of these yet. Though there were attempts at the start, they did not reach any goals and so far, we see no hope of starting meaningful peace talks. And that is aproblem.

On one hand, because people are senselessly dying every day, and on the other, because all this is happening in our neighborhood. In other words, every minute spent at war in our neighborhood is a security threat to us.

We do not want this and therefore it is our most important task to guarantee two things: Hungary’s security and to not get dragged into this war.

The government’s position is obvious: the Hungarian interest is peace as soon as possible. For now, this does not seem to be a reality in the near future. Meanwhile the Hungarian forint’s value is decreasing day-by-day causing restlessness among the people. What can we expect?

Europe is strife with alarm and uncertainty today. Everyone has realized that the war will create a permanent inflationary environment and that the European economy is facing extreme challenges resulting from the sanctions measures. This is quite simply because energy makes up the basis of all economic activity and the dramatic increase in the price of energy is a hard blow to the European economy. After all, today the issue is not how much energy will cost – but if we can get any at all. Soon, the North Stream 1 will be shut down due to maintenance work and as of now, there is a lot of uncertainty in Europe on how much natural gas will be getting to the continent once it restarts, making the atmosphere rather dark. This negative atmosphere is the reason for the movement on the foreign exchange markets that we are also experiencing in Hungary – and only peace can make this a thing of the past.

However, up until we do not reach peace and this war continues, we will not have a positive atmosphere in the European economic environment. Why would there be?

Are there plans for Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Vladimir Putin to meet, or you and your Russian colleague, Sergei Lavrov?

No, though Sergei Lavrov and I regularly speak. The last time we spoke was last week, about energy supply as this is a vital question and I also consulted with the Russian Deputy Prime Minister on energy. So, we are in contact. The last time Viktor Orbán and the Russian president spoke was over the phone after the Hungarian elections; during the call, the Hungarian PM called for peace negotiations and a ceasefire. Since then, there has been no direct communication between them.

Can we expect new sanctions from the European Union against Moscow?

As of now, there is no official proposal on the table – however, even at the time of the sixth sanctions package, many countries were weighing the importance of a seventh set of sanctions. For now, these efforts have subsided, but it cannot be ruled out that those European countries that are big believers in sanctions politics will propose another set or start to pressure the European Commission to produce a new proposal. If this happens, we will fight it.

One thing we are unwilling to even debate is a potential embargo on natural gas shipments.

We will not be able to support this – but we are not alone in this. Aside from us there are several Member States that physically cannot replace Russian oil. Not because they do not want to but because there are physical obstacles.

The war also damaged cooperation between the Visegrád Four, especially testing the Polish-Hungarian friendship. For instance, a few weeks ago, Jaroslaw Kaczynski said rather straightforwardly that if this goes on, they will not be able to work together with the Hungarian government as they have thus far. Is the Visegrád alliance in danger?

It is not just friendship between Hungarians and Poles but brotherhood. This strong connection will not be broken by the current situation, even if we have disputes and disagreements. Visegrád cooperation and Hungarian-Polish relations have always focused on strengthening territories that we agree on. Territories where we have common goals and interests that can be more easily achieved if we act together rather than separately. There always have been points that we disagree on. That should not be shocking, we are different countries and see and understand certain things differently. It is natural that we do not agree on everything. This is true for human relations as well.

It is another issue that in the West, disagreements have always been interpreted as the end of Visegrad cooperation. These are ridiculous accusations.

In the Visegrád alliance, it has always been clear that we have a different approach to Russian-European relations compared to not only Poland, but also Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Neither country has ever been in full agreement. In connection with the war, it was our decision that we will not transport weapons because this is a Hungarian national interest; right now, this quite obviously differs from the other positions than during peace times. With the end of the war though, the Visegrád countries – and Polish-Hungarian relations especially – will again have a much calmer environment for cooperation. These relations have always been based on mutual respect.

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