The Orbán government is not simply „resisting” European attempts to change its migration policy but has been suggesting the solution for the problem since 2015, Zoltán Kovács, the Secretary of State for International Communication and Relations, said on Monday at the international “Hungary at First ‘Site‘” press conference organized by the Friends of Hungary Foundation, Hungary Today’s publisher, held online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. In his presentation, Kovács also talked about the US election.
Talking about migration, Kovács noted that the situation on the continent has not changed fundamentally, “…we can see the very same thing happening at the borders, even amid the Covid pandemic.”
It was the most evident in 2015, Kovács recalled, when Europe saw around 1.5-2 million people entering the EU illegally; Hungary alone experienced 400,000 people crossing its borders while coming to the continent.
This year so far, Hungary has registered 31,407 attempts of illegal border crossing, Kovács said. He warned that
even though this figure seems to be on a small scale compared to the 400,000 in 2015, it is “getting ever closer” to the figure we saw one year before 2015.
The state secretary believes the reason for the continuous problem of migration is that Europe has no effective means at hand to deal with the phenomenon, not to mention the consensus that is required on behalf of member states to be able to put up an effective system that could deal with it.
Kovács called the very fact that neither the European institutions nor the member states have been able to come up with a compromise, “unfortunate.”
The Hungarian government’s stance on the problem is that migration cannot be considered a human right: people don’t have the right to decide to cross a number of countries- sometimes dozens- and illegally crossing European borders to claim asylum.
, Kovács stated. He said many European institutions and especially NGOs have been working tirelessly to make the terms “migrant” and “asylum seeker” the same. Illegal migrants are being portrayed as asylum seekers, which he believes is misleading.
He also emphasized that the Orbán government is not simply “resisting” European attempts to change its migration policy but has been suggesting the solution since 2015.
First, we must secure the European borders and then decide about the new protocols that would enable Europe to stop illegal migrants from crossing the border, Kovács said.
Hotspots should be established beyond the borders of Europe, thus enabling European agencies to decide who is eligible to enter and who is not.
Europe also has to provide help on the spot in regions and countries that are releasing migrants in great numbers towards the continent instead of importing problems to Europe.
Regarding Hungary’s asylum policies, Kovács said that even though the system is very tough, as it is extremely thorough, it is still possible to receive asylum in Hungary.
Answering questions from journalists, Kovács denied that migration could be the solution of the population decline that the continent is facing. He called this approach propagated by many European countries a “suicide.”
If you give up helping your own population to have more kids, then unavoidably the only solution will be migration,”
but Hungary “has chosen a different path,” Kovács said, adding that the Orbán government started its own program ten years ago, the result of which can already be seen as the population decline has stopped in the country.
Asked about the increasing number of residency permits obtained by foreigners, he said that the dividing line should always be the question of legality. For those who would like to come to make investments and work in Hungary for a time following all the rules Hungary has, it has always been open, Kovács said.
On the question about which president would be better for Hungary, Donald Trump or Joe Biden, Kovács said that in political terms the Orbán government has been very outspoken about the policies of the Trump administration, especially as his tough stance on illegal migration is a lot closer to Hungary’s perception of what is and what should be happening around the world.
But political preferences should not be mixed up with the will of the people, so Hungary will respect the official result of the presidential election when announced
, Kovács emphasized. He added that even though the Orbán government had its fair share of debates with previous Democrat administrations, due to their preaching tone and lessons on democracy, Hungary is and always has been open to discussions that are based on mutual respect.
featured image illustration via Zoltán Kovács’s Facebook page