Strengthening Egypt is in the European Union’s “vital interest”, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said after a meeting of representatives of the Visegrad Group and Egypt in Budapest on Tuesday.
Orbán told a press conference held jointly with Slovak counterpart Eduard Heger, Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi that migration is much worse now than in 2015, and the EU could not cope without external allies such as Egypt, “one of the most obvious allies”.
At the meeting, Morawiecki reported on the migration pressure at Poland’s eastern border, Orbán said, adding that the pressure on Hungary’s southern border was also increasing.
“We are besieged,” the prime minister said, adding that if Egypt cannot pursue its current policies to rein in migration towards Europe, “we will all be in great trouble”. Egypt not only needs its border controls reinforced, the country’s economy should also be stabilized so that “local youth are offered opportunities of a good life,” Orbán said, adding that it was also in Europe’s interest.
Orbán called on the EU to convene the EU/Egypt Association Council as soon as possible, accept Egypt as a strategic partner and approve its proposals against terrorism.
He proposed that the EU adopt Egypt’s list of terrorists and terrorist organizations, and suggested that European restrictions preventing Egypt from purchasing equipment for border protection should be lifted.
Orbán said that no ship carrying illegal migrants had left the coasts of Egypt since 2016. “If there is a will and good leadership, migration at sea can be restricted or even prevented.”
Talks will continue in the afternoon, focusing on economic cooperation, Orbán said, adding that such cooperation was a Hungarian priority.
From left to right: Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and Slovak Eduard Heger. Photo by Cher Benko Vivien/PM’s Press Office
Hungary’s Eximbank has opened a separate chapter to ensure that “Hungary not only exports goods but sets up factories in Egypt”. Such businesses could offer jobs to local youth, while Hungary could also contribute to European efforts aimed at stabilizing the Egyptian economy in the long run, he added.
Orbán also said that the Egyptian president’s visit was an honor, adding that “ties are friendly and brotherly”.
FM Szijjártó: Enabling Egypt to protect borders in EU’s interest
The European Union has a vested interest in Egypt being able to protect its borders and maintain stability in order to prevent waves of migrants from reaching the territory of the EU, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Tuesday.
However, the EU maintains two regulations that are opposed to that goal, he told the press after a summit of Visegrad Group countries and Egypt. The EU is preventing the transfer of 120 million euros in funding, allocated for Egypt under the arrangements of the European neighborhood policy, he added.
“We urge the European Commission to transfer this 120 million euros to Cairo as soon as possible and drop all fake and artificial political preconditions tied to this financial support,” he said.
The EU also maintains restrictions that prevent the sale of certain technologies to Egypt, he said. Yet, many of these technologies would be needed for Egypt to be able to keep thousands of kilometers of borders under control, including a long Mediterranean maritime border, a long stretch of border with Libya, and a southern border which is under threat, Szijjártó added.
Various drones and surveillance technologies would be required to securely control these borders and Hungary will therefore initiate that the EU withdraws the restrictions and enables the acquisition of technologies required for successful border protection by Egypt, the Foreign Minister said.
Featured photo by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI