“Migration flows must not be managed, they must be stopped”

A few days after the presentation of the new migration pact by the Commission, the Hungarian ambassador in Paris, Georges Károlyi, explains the reasons why Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister, publicly expressed his reluctance. Since 2016, the asylum reform has suffered from a blockage, in particular in the countries of the V4 group (Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Czechia). Ursula von der Leyen is trying to strike a balance between the European countries which would welcome refugees and those which would be responsible for returning the rejected asylum seekers to their country of origin. Hungary is not yet completely satisfied with this balance. Interview with Georges Károlyi.

Point : Mr Orban considers that the new migration pact of the von der Leyen Commission still refers too much to the notion of “quotas”. However, the Commission leaves the choice to the Member States to contribute to the migration policy of the EU either by relocating refugees at home, or by “sponsoring” returns to the country of origin. The Commission has therefore satisfied one of Hungary’s flagship demands: not to welcome migrants on its territory. What is wrong with this proposal?

Georges Károlyi : Before discussing what is wrong, we must acknowledge Mr. Orban for having declared that the general tone of the Commission proposal had changed, and that as such it deserved on our part a key examination. constructive. We therefore do not reject it out of hand. That said, there are points in this proposal that we consider problematic. We don’t want to be fooled a second time. One of these is the “sponsorship” of returns to the country. If I understand correctly, Member States which declare that they do not want to relocate migrants can “redeem themselves” by sponsoring their return to the country of origin. It seems to me a passage of mistigri on which we will have to think seriously.

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The return to the country of rejected migrants is the great weakness of the experience of the last five years. Nobody does it properly, not even large countries like France, whose international weight is greater than that of all the others. Wanting to do away with this task on small countries – because it is indeed them that it is – devoid of the means of pressure on the countries of origin of migrants seems incredibly unrealistic. And this unrealism is coupled with a certain cynicism – if not a certain cynicism – insofar as one hastens to add that if this objective is not reached within eight months, well it will be necessary that the Member States in question draw the consequences of their failure and agree to receive the migrants concerned in their homes. We are back to square one. I do not mind that these are no longer “mandatory relocations”, but it looks like it furiously …

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And, generally speaking, we note with concern that the whole of the proposal aims – once again – at “good management” of migration, while our position is exactly the opposite: instead of managing – good or bad, it doesn’t matter – migration is what must be stopped. And to stop it, it is necessary on the one hand to bring aid to where the problem finds its source, not to import the problem, and, on the other hand, to allow only those migrants whose request has been made to enter Europe. accepted by one or other of the Member States. Otherwise, we will find ourselves faced with the nagging problem of returns to the country of origin that no one wants to deal with. We’ve been saying it all along. We are starting to be heard, but it is still very insufficient. From this point of view, the Commission proposal seems to us to be far too timid.

Do you at least recognize that the Commission has made an effort to take into account the position of the V4s and that it is not, contrary to the accusations of Mr. Orban, in the hands of Mr. Soros and serving occult interests aimed at open Europe wide to all migrants?

Yes, we absolutely recognize it. In our first comments on the Commission proposal, at no time did we mention Mr Soros. However, the latter has not, as far as I know, denied to this day his well-known statements on the wide opening of Europe to all migrants. But let’s leave that to another debate. Today – fortunately – it is not the intentions of Mr Soros that we must comment on, but those of the Commission.

Does Hungary consider that the countries of the south, Italy, Greece, Malta, Spain, should be solely responsible for the management of migratory flows passing through the Mediterranean?

I do not see how the countries which have a Mediterranean facade could not be responsible for the flows which pass through the Mediterranean. As far as I know, the Commission proposal does not exempt them from this. Hungary has a Schengen border on mainland and is obviously responsible for it. She has even spent, to date, more than a billion euros to deal with it, which nobody wanted to acknowledge. But here again, we start from the mistaken notion of “management”. Migration flows must not be managed, they must be stopped. Almost three years ago, the V4s offered the Commission a contribution of 35 million euros to finance equipment to prevent the departure of migrant boats from Libya. Today that $ 35 million has not been spent. Can we be told why?

How does Hungary intend to meet the international obligations arising from the Geneva Convention on the right to asylum?

The Geneva Convention, to which Hungary is a signatory, was concluded 70 years ago in a completely different context, which obviously did not take into account the case of mass immigration. To consider indiscriminately that it must apply to the current situation amounts to wanting to apply the same rule to profoundly different situations, which is not only absurd, but legally unfounded.

If people want to apply for asylum in Hungary and they scrupulously meet the conditions set by the Geneva Convention, it is obvious that they will get it. But these people are only a tiny minority, I would say a negligible amount of the cases we are dealing with. The Geneva convention is not the subject. Let us have the lucidity and the courage to recognize it.

Asylum reform will go through ordinary EU legislation. So by qualified majority. If the pact is adopted as it stands and Hungary finds itself in the minority, will Budapest refuse to apply the directive as it had refused the mandatory quotas?

I believe that the bodies of the European Union have understood that a trick like the one in September 2015 should not be attempted again, otherwise the experience of the last five years will have been of no use. The Commission proposal must now be discussed. As I said, we will do it in a constructive approach. If this constructive approach is shared by our partners, nothing says that we will be outvoted.

Another subject of dissension is on the table: the budgetary clause which conditions the payment of European funds to respect for the rule of law. Mr. Orban indicates that the Hungarian Parliament will not vote the budget and the recovery plan if a clause links the payments of European funds to respect for the rule of law. What bothers you about this device?

I do not believe that there is a budgetary clause which conditions the payment of European funds on respect for the rule of law. If that were the case, we would not have accepted the compromise.

Let us get on well: it is not the rule of law that bothers us. It is obvious that the rule of law must be respected within the European Union, we have never said the opposite. And we are quiet about it: Hungary is a rule of law. What bothers us is the use that some make of it: the problem stems from the fact that some, under the cover of the rule of law, and therefore of legal considerations, seek to question, and sanction, a certain number of political choices, mainly societal, of Hungary, which they do not share. This attitude seems deeply anti-European to us, because these choices are perfectly legitimate, they do not threaten the values ​​or the cohesion of the Union, and have nothing to do with a financial debate on European funds.

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A completely different question is the control of the appropriate use of European funds by the various beneficiary countries, which is a fair concern not only of the European institutions, but of all the Member States, including Hungary, which contribute to the budget of The union. This control must obviously be carried out, but on the basis of intrinsic criteria clearly and previously defined. This is what the compromise adopted in Brussels last July provides for, and which we accepted. The concrete modalities will be determined shortly. The presence in this game of the rule of law, of which there is no unanimously accepted normative definition and which, for this reason, opens the door to the most uncontrollable political arbitrariness, is extrinsic to the subject and has nothing to do in this mess. Legal security is at stake, which is the basic condition of democratic governance, and therefore of the rule of law itself.

Mr. Orbatn theorizes in a long article published by the Magyar Nemzet that the West and the countries of Central Europe do not see the future in the same way. Are we moving towards a partition of the EU within a few years?

God forbid ! Before we get to that, let’s agree on the terms. In his article Magyar Nemzet, Mr. Orban stated verbatim “that it is not surprising that the countries of Central Europe have chosen a different future for themselves. [de ceux de l’Occident], exempt from immigration ”. And after having enumerated, in the process, all the points on which our position differed from that of other countries of the Union, he added that “we must stay on the path of agreements and compromises”.

We must be careful not to speak of partitions, of splits as soon as a disagreement appears. These terms are out of proportion with the subjects. The cohesion of the Union can perfectly accommodate these disagreements, it is enough to want it politically. It is the political will of the two countries that ensures the cohesion of the Franco-German couple, despite the many points of disagreement between them. The same political will, based on mutual respect and not on stigmatization, must apply to the whole of the Union, and it will be surprisingly discovered that it is possible to stay together while having different views on immigration and a whole host of other topics. It is a delusion to imagine that in order to function the 27 countries of the Union must necessarily agree on everything. It’s quite the opposite.

The “European solution” sometimes involves – not to say most often – solutions which differ from country to country, but which are complementary, in the best interests of the whole. Like in a football match, where the team’s goal can only be scored as a result of the different, but complementary, action of each player. It is this culture that Europe must learn.

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