Europe must work closely with north African and Middle Eastern countries to prevent the emergence of more illegal migration waves on its borders, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Thursday, arguing that the combined burden of the war in Ukraine and migration would be “too much” for the continent.
Though the armed conflict in Ukraine is a regional one, its effects are felt on a global scale, and the top priority right now is preventing the war from becoming a global one, the foreign ministry cited Szijjarto as saying at a meeting of the foreign ministers of the European Union and the Southern Neighbourhood countries in Barcelona. “This requires that everyone finally start working to achieve peace,” the minister said.
Europe, north Africa and the Middle East all have an interest in peace being achieved as soon as possible, the minister said.
The food crisis caused by the war is hurting countries that are already in a difficult situation the most, where the risk of instability is greater, Szijjarto said.
“So the most important thing right now is to prevent the global food crisis from triggering new migration waves, because they would be headed for Europe and Europe is not strong enough to confront two security-type challenges at the same time,” he said.
Because Europe has to prevent the emergence of illegal migration waves, it has an interest in establishing the closest possible forms of cooperation with the north African and Middle Eastern countries, he said.
This, Szijjarto said, required supporting the countries of those two regions, which he said could act as a “European line of defence” when it came to stopping migration waves. It also requires Brussels to change its “pro-migration policy”, he added.
Szijjarto said it should be made clear as soon as possible that those who come to Europe could only do so legally, and that the breach of borders was a crime. He said this made the NGOs operating the migrant rescue vessels on the Mediterranean people smugglers against whom proper action should be taken.