"Brussels’ immigration policy is endangering the unity of Europe and accordingly must be discarded for good”, FM Péter Szijjártó

Monday, June 27, 2016

The people of Europe are not prepared to accept the fact that Brussels bureaucrats should decide the future of Europe
Photo: Zsolt Burger/Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

“Brussels’ immigration policy is endangering the unity of Europe and accordingly must be discarded for good”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó told Hungarian news agency MTI following Monday’s meeting of Visegrád Group (V4), German and French Foreign Ministers in Prague.

“Hungary believes there are five main tasks and four important lessons to be learned following last Thursday’s British referendum in which the British people voted to leave the European Union”, the Foreign Minister added.

As “perhaps the most important lesson”, Mr. Szijjártó said “we must finally do away with Brussels’ immigration policy”. “Brussels’ immigration policy is clearly endangering the unity of Europe and so we must discard Brussels’ immigration policy for good”, he stressed.

As a further lesson to be learned from the Brexit referendum, Mr Szijjártó cited the fact that “European politics cannot be conducted in a way that disregards the opinion of the people of Europe”, and that “Europeans want to decide for themselves about their lives and futures”.

“The British referendum has clearly shown that the people of Europe are not prepared to accept that decisions on the future of Europe, including on such important issues as who the people of Europe will have to live with, are made somewhere in Brussels in private and behind closed doors by European bureaucrats”, the Minister pointed out. The fourth conclusion is that “We need sincere politics in Europe instead of hypocrisy; we must call a spade a spade and provide real solutions to real issues”, he added.

The first of Europe’s five tasks, according to the Hungarian Foreign minister, is that Europe should stop criticising the British, “because the British people have a right to decide what future they want for Great Britain and their decision must be respected”.

The second task is that Europe must recognise: the EU’s second strongest economy has voted to exit the organisation, and instead of blaming the British Europe must examine what needs to be changed in Brussels and within the EU.

The third important task is that Europe must stop the hysteria. We must follow regulations, and according to the rules it is a Member State’s duty to announce its intention to exit. “It is not right to put the British under pressure; it is not right to rush the British. The British have the right to decide when they announce their intention to leave the EU”, Mr. Szijjártó noted.

With regard to the fourth task, Mr. Szijjártó explained that the exit is not a bureaucratic procedure but a political one. “To us, the content of the negotiations and the result that is put forward for adoption following the negations is much more important that the issue of when negotiations will begin. In our view, we should not push for the commencement of negotiations until we are clear on what the Member States of the European Union want to achieve at the end of the exit negotiations”, the Minster said.

As the fifth point, Mr. Szijjártó declared that “We Hungarians and Central European will have major interests at stake during the course of negotiation, which we would like to enforce” and we want “the Hungarian and Central European standpoint to also appear in the European Union’s final negotiation mandate”. He cited as an example the fact that “hundreds of thousands of people from Central European countries are working in Great Britain, and accordingly it is important what agreement the parties can come to and what regulations will apply to Central European citizens”.

Mr. Szijjártó told the press that the EU “is treading unknown ground with respect to the fact that there has never before been an exit or exit negotiations, so the framework for the procedure is somewhat uncertain”. According to the Hungarian Foreign Minister it is extremely important that as many consultations as possible take place with and between Member States, and this is one of the reasons why Hungary welcomes the Czech Republic’s decision to call a meeting and hold negotiations in Prague.

“Great Britain’s departure will not stop the development of the European Union”, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the host Czech Republic Lubomir Zaorálek said at the press conference following the meeting. At Mr. Zaorálek’s invitation, the meeting was attended by the Foreign Ministers of Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, as well as by the German and French Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

According to Mr. Zaorálek, the Ministers agreed that the solution to the situation that has arisen following the British referendum must be found together, and in a prudent and concrete manner. It is important that the EU forge new relations with Great Britain, he said.

“It is in our interests for that relationship to be of good quality and that we behave like friends who need each other”, he explained.

The Czech Foreign Minister said negotiations on the future of the 27 remaining members of the European Union are of key importance. “We are convinced that we must debate what Brexit means to the EU and what kind of European Union we want in the future”, he declared.

According to Mr. Zaorálek, the sic foreign ministers agreed that all 27 Member States must take part in the debate on the future of Europe, and at the level of their political leaders. A meeting of this kind will take place in the near future on the proposal of Slovakian Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcák.

“We are ready to do everything to ensure the continuation of this project (the EU)”, Mr. Zaorálek underlined.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)