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Hungary’s government is committed to its policy of providing help at the location where it is needed, the foreign minister told a conference in Budapest on the European aid programme supporting Syria and Iraq.
The Quadra programme was launched in 2016 and supports refugees and the communities receiving them to improve adaptation skills, education and work opportunities.
The European Union faces historic challenges and the most serious of these concerns migration, Peter Szijjártó said. “The first time Hungary came face to face with a large wave of illegal migrants was in 2015 and the security risks it brought to Europe have since become obvious,” he added. Migration waves pose risks not only to the target countries but also to the people who pay to human smugglers and become their victims, he said. “Our migration policy is clear,” Szijjártó said. “But the only things most of the world knows about it are that we insist on our right to decide … whom we want to live together with, that we protect our borders, don’t allow in illegal migrants and that we insist on our national, religious, historical and cultural identity.” Less is said about “the other part of our policy”, the minister said. Szijjártó underlined the government’s position that the root causes of migration should be eliminated and help should be provided to allow everyone to live in peace in their homeland or to return there as quickly as possible. “What we believe is a basic human right is that everyone should be able to live in peace and safety in their homeland, and this is what should be guaranteed,” he said.
For many, it is not possible to live peacefully in their homeland, so international support for countries that give shelter must be increased substantially, he said. “Making the return home is far more feasible from neighbouring countries than from thousands of kilometres away.” “Hungary doesn’t just talk about this but takes action too,” he said. “Despite being a small country, there are some small tasks that Hungary can gladly undertake.” Szijjártó cited helping Christian communities facing difficulties as an example, adding that the government scheme dubbed Hungary Helps has so far provided 8 billion forints (EUR 24.8m) of aid to 35,000 people. He said the government held the Ecumenical Charity in high esteem for the work carried out in Hungary and around the world, supporting people living under difficult circumstances.
The charity’s head, László Lehel, said the aid programme had been executed in cooperation with Hungary, Germany, France and Spain. Great advances have been made in the past three years, he added. Instead of focusing on rapid and immediate aid, the programme has sought ways to help people get jobs and create a secure livelihood, he said. Gábor Zupkó, the head of the European Commission’s representation in Hungary, said that at times Hungarians had been forced to leave the country and seek refuge elsewhere for the sake of the safety of their families and their own safety. Volker J. Oel, department head in charge of central and eastern Europe in the German economic cooperation and development ministry, said the current scheme was especially important because it focused on education, training, job creation and social cohesion.