The approaching winter raises the spectre of a humanitarian disaster in Ukraine, where “peace must come as soon as possible,” Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Geneva, adding that Europe also suffers from the “dual pressure from the consequences of war and illegal migration”.
Speaking at the general debate of a meeting of the UN International Organisation for Migration, the minister noted that Hungary is implementing the largest humanitarian action of its history to help the refugees fleeing the conflict in neighbouring Ukraine. It has accepted some 1 million people and offers schooling and provisions to those who want to stay, he said. At the same time, the coming winter is threatening with a humanitarian disaster and “the prospects are terrible” for Ukraine, Szijjártó said. “When, if not now, should we call for peace as soon as possible and warn those who escalate the war further rather than helping to stop it?” he said.
Meanwhile, Hungary also faces a “siege” at its southern border, where it thwarted 255,000 illegal entry attempts this year only, he said. “A new dimension of violence and aggression” has also emerged as armed migrants attacked each other and border patrols there, he said. The number of new arrivals is growing, as shown in the 1,500 actions authorities have launched against people smugglers, a number “similar to those during the migration crisis of 2015”, he said.
Hungary is ready to accept all refugees from Ukraine as the first safe country for those fleeing the war, but will reject those who have “crossed five or six states” to come to its southern border, he said. “We will always protect our borders, fulfilling our national and European Union obligations,” he said.
He called for an end to the EU’s “pro-migration” policy, calling for support to member states in protecting their territory. “Pro-migration” policies support the “business model” of people smugglers, he said. “The so-called NGOs bringing asylum seekers to the continent across the borders with safe countries or via dangerous routes across the Mediterranean also count as people smugglers,” he said.
Later on Thursday, Szijjártó told the UN’s Forum on Minority Issues that Hungary remained a staunch supporter of Hungarians living abroad and of persecuted Christians worldwide. The government sees the right to the free use of one’s mother tongue as “one of the most fundamental rights” to be ensured by all states, he said. “Unfortunately, not all neighbours of Hungary share that approach, as opposed to Serbia where minority rights are enforced in an exemplary fashion,” he said. Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world today, especially threatened by terrorist organisations, he said. The government-sponsored Hungary Helps programme has spent some 80 million dollars on supporting 1 million people worldwide, ensuring they could make a living in their home countries or return there, he said.