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SZIJJÁRTÓ CALLS FOR EU HELP TO DEFEND NORTH AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST BORDERS

 

The European Union should launch a comprehensive financial and technical programme to support the north African and Middle Eastern countries in defending their borders, Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s minister of foreign affairs and trade, said in Barcelona. Addressing a regional forum of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), Szijjártó said he expected growing migration pressure from the southern regions of Africa. “While Europe is facing several simultaneous challenges, more and more migrants are arriving on the continent from three directions,” he said. The position of the Hungarian government remains unchanged, Szijjártó said. Rather than being encouraged to leave their country, those in need should be assisted by eliminating the root causes of migration in their homeland, he said. Europe should aim to halt migration as far as possible from its borders, for which effective cooperation with the north African nations is indispensable, Szijjártó said. “It is not an exaggeration to say that the EU’s security starts with the security and stability of north Africa,” he said. As the issue is crucial, the EU “should free its financial support from all artificial political preconditions,” the minister said, referring to Egypt, which halted migration over the past five years but had no access to EU funds for “certain human rights issues”. Szijjártó called for support for NGOs involved in the maritime transport of immigrants to be abandoned, saying that their actions undermined partner countries’ efforts to defend their borders.