Hungary says Europe remains ‘defenseless’ against migrants
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Hungary’s foreign minister said Friday that Europe remains threatened by unchecked immigration and must focus on stopping it, three years after the mass influx of about a million people.
Peter Szijjarto told The Associated Press that the European Union should screen asylum-seekers in camps created outside its own borders, which he said the bloc should be able to police more efficiently.
“Now we are exactly where we used to be three years ago,” he said. “The European Union is defenseless from the south and from the southeast.”
Szijjarto spoke on the sidelines of a regional EU foreign ministers meeting in Greece that discussed energy cooperation, and the bloc’s expansion before a summit next week in Bulgaria.
Greece is a major gateway to the EU for asylum-seekers, and has seen increasing arrivals in recent months.
Hungary is strongly critical of EU immigration policies, has built border fences to keep migrants out and rejects the bloc’s obligatory quota system for taking in asylum-seekers.
“We should not speak about how to encourage migration, how to manage migration, we should speak about how to stop the migratory flows,” Szijjarto said. “Because if the migratory flows continue then that would pose a significant security threat (to) Europe.”
Friday’s talks in a resort south of Athens brought together ministers from the so-called Visegrad Group — Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary — and Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.
Visegrad Group members strongly object to EU immigration policies, and resent criticism over the rule of the law in their countries from many EU partners.
Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz told the AP that while attitudes towards Poland from other European capitals and “elites” have improved, countries facing similar criticism should take common defensive action.
“Countries of the region, central and eastern Europe, should stay together,” he said. “We have common interests, we cannot accept double standards within the European Union, and we have to defend our cause.”