Following its latest review of the situation on the Belarus-Poland border, the European Union has backed the use of sanctions against Belarus for using migration as a mode of manipulation, Hungary’s foreign minister said in Brussels on Monday. Under the resolution approved at Monday’s meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, the EU can impose sanctions on people and organisations who use migration as a mode of manipulation, Péter Szijjártó said on the sidelines of the meeting. The list of specific individuals and entities to be sanctioned will be decided later, he added. The EU faces “unprecedented levels of migration pressure”, Szijjártó said, arguing that the bloc was “under siege from the south, the south-east and the east”. He said the Visegrad Group had also held a special meeting on Monday where the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia all offered their help to Poland. When Hungary found itself in a similar situation in 2015, the other V4 countries all came to its aid, the minister said.
Concerning the migration pressure from the south, Szijjártó emphasised the importance of improving living conditions instead of supporting emigration in troubled African countries. Hungary does its fair share when it comes to such efforts, he said, noting that by end of 2023 the country will have contributed a maximum of 80 soldiers to Europe’s Takuba Task Force fighting Islamic State-linked militants in Mali. Szijjártó also urged speeding up the EU integration of the Western Balkans, saying Hungary expected the bloc to begin accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia and to open at least two accession chapters with Serbia before the end of the year.
“Anyone who blocks this must bear the responsibility for the historic levels of damage that will cause in this region,” he said.
Meanwhile, the minister said Hungary would support an Eastern Partnership country deepening its ties with the EU only if its leadership respected the rights of national minorities like those of Ukraine’s ethnic Hungarian community.
On another subject, he said Azerbaijan could become a key player when it comes to Europe’s gas supply, but this required investments in infrastructure and increased extraction rates.
“If we can’t make that work, then no one will have the right … to criticise us for having to sign a long-term gas supply deal with Russia,” he said.