Hungary asks EU to provide Egypt with financial support to confront irregular migration

Ahram Online , Wednesday 23 Feb 2022

Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Szijjarto has called on the European Union (EU) to provide Egypt with financial support to help the North African country in its efforts to address irregular migration from Africa to Europe.

Shoukry
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry during a meeting with his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto in Cairo on Wednesday, 23 February 2022 (Photo courtesy of Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Egypt closed its maritime borders six years ago and thus helped prevent the flow of irregular African migration towards Europe, Szijjarto said during a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Cairo following a meeting.

The situation in Eastern Europe, Szijjarto said — referring indirectly to the Russia-Ukraine crisis — is the main crisis in the continent, and the other is the “constant” irregular migration.

“The current situation makes it imperative for us to consolidate relations with our friends who will walk together to mitigate the matter,” he stressed.

The Hungarian minister praised Cairo’s efforts in dealing with the issue, saying Egypt has always been “a reliable” partner in addressing this crisis.

Furthermore, Szijjarto noted that the situation of regional security around Egypt has not improved, a matter that necessitates providing “unconditional” support to Egypt to help it secure its land borders.

“We call on the EU to not associate the support to any kind of artificial condition,” he said, adding that “with the existing security situation, I would like to assure that we are in dire need of our security partners, and we have no room for choice.”

Egypt, where nearly six million refugees from Africa and other unstable countries live, has been tightening control over all border crossings and ports of the state in recent years to put a brake on the phenomenon within the framework of its commitment to international conventions.

In 2016, the country launched Egypt first national strategy to combat illegal migration. It also issued Law 82 of 2016, which criminalise all forms of migrant smuggling.

The law punishes whoever commits, attempts, or is involved in the crime of smuggling migrants with imprisonment and a fine ranging from EGP 200,000 to EGP 500,000.

In 2019, Egypt launched its ‘Lifeboats Initiative’ on migration in order to provide job opportunities in villages seeing significant levels of irregular migration, with EGP 250 million allocated to support and implement it in 70 villages across the country.

In October 2021, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi reiterated that Egypt will not be a transit point for irregular migrants seeking to reach Europe despite the huge number of refugees it is hosting.

Egypt-Hungary cooperation

Szijjarto, who is accompanied by 58 Hungarian businessmen, is set to participate in the Egyptian-Hungarian Business Forum and meet other Egyptian officials — including Minister of Transportation Kamel Al-Wazir and Minister of Trade and Industry Nevine Gamea.

The number of visiting businessmen clearly shows the extent of the interest of Hungarian companies in Egypt, Szijjarto said.

In terms of Egypt-Hungary bilateral relations, Szijjarto said that in 2021, trade exchange between both nations exceeded $400 million for the first time, while Hungarian exports to Egypt broke the record of $300 million.

Shoukry stated that Egypt and Hungary have historical close relations and common interests based on solid foundations of friendship, expressing his hope that the meetings will succeed in exploring more areas of cooperation and attract investments to Egypt.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, he added, around 25,000 Hungarians have visited Egypt in 2021 through Hungarian airlines.

Furthermore, he noted that Hungary has provided Egypt with 76 train carriages as per an agreement, and an additional 600 carriages will be delivered by September, he added.

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