Foreign Affairs

External Borders Should Be Defended, While Internal Ones Must Remain Open, Foreign Minsiter Tells German Newspaper

Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s minister of foreign affairs and trade, took a stand for keeping borders open within the Schengen zone, in an interview published by conservative German daily Die Welt on Saturday.

Asked about how the strict defence of the zone’s external borders can be reconciled with advocacy for no control along its internal ones, the minister noted that Hungary has a “very open” economy, and said that “if Schengen dies, the open economy will also die.” Szijjártó referred to large industrial companies operating in Hungary under the “just-in-time” production management system. “If the trucks are once again checked at the borders and lose time, the system will no longer function,” he said.

Rejecting criticism over Hungary’s decision to build a fence along its southern border, Szijjártó said that the free movement of people and goods within the Schengen zone can only be guaranteed if the external borders are duly protected. By defending the border of the Schengen zone, Hungary is also protecting Europe and, within that, Germany, he said. Szijjártó expressed hope that Germany and other EU countries would not prolong the temporarily restored internal border controls in February. “To attain this, however, all countries concerned should defend the EU’s external borders as Hungary does,” he said.

Asked why Hungary fails to provide help for the migrants suffering from the cold spell along the Serbian-Hungarian border, Szijjártó said that the migrants should rather go get themselves registered at the Serbian reception centres. Hungary has made it clear several times that it will not tolerate illegal immigration, he said. “It is not a fundamental human right to march through safe countries en masse and choose the country where you wish to settle,” the minister said.

Concerning ties with Russia, Szijjártó said that Hungary’s government had never supported the sanctions but had not vetoed them either so as not to weaken the European position. The sanctions are “cynical and ineffective”, similar to a boomerang, and do harm to the European economies, the minister said. He added, however, that Europe should not tolerate Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty. Szijjártó said that the EU heads of state and government should at last analyse the effects of the sanctions.

The Hungarian minister also said that record-low unemployment posed new challenges to Hungary, with investors asking if the country has enough skilled labour. He added, however, that “we still have reserves and need no immigration.”

via hungarymatters.hu and MTI