Peter Szijjarto on Hungary’s Relationship to Immigrants

As the European Union accuses Hungary of targeting immigrants and the rule of law, Christiane Amanpour sits down with the country’s Foreign Minister, Peter Szijjarto.

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PETER SZIJJARTO: Look, our country has direct experience back from 2015, how these migratory flows look like. So, we don’t speak about this issue what we have — as we had seen it on television or as we had heard from the news. We have experienced it firsthand. As there were 400,000 illegal migrants marching through our country, disrespecting our rules and regulations entirely, disrespecting the way we lived, occupying open and public areas, demanding issues which are absolutely not covered by international law. These people came through at least four or five safe countries until they reached Hungary and then violated our border. My question is, what is the legal or immoral ground for anyone to cross, to violate a border between two peaceful countries? These people came through Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, all peaceful and safe countries. So, it’s not a fundamental human right that you wake up in the morning, you pick a country where you would like to live in, like Germany or Sweden. And in order to get there, you violate series of borders. This is not the way it should work out.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Let me just first try to get your feeling about this.


AMANPOUR: Do you agree that they are invaders? Do you have any respect for the international right to asylum and refugee rights?

SZIJJARTO: No. We comply with all —

AMANPOUR: First the invaders, are they invaders?

SZIJJARTO: Yes, yes. Actually, you see them, they come, they violate our border, they disrespect any kinds of regulations, they are not ready to cooperate with your local authorities, they attack your police, they cause injuries to your police people. And the second part of your question, if I may just — because I think it’s a very important question, that whether we comply with the international regulations, yes, we do. Absolutely and entirely.

AMANPOUR: Many of these people, as you correctly point out, were trying to get to other countries.


AMANPOUR: Hungary was a transit place.

SZIJJARTO: Absolutely.

AMANPOUR: They didn’t really want to stay in your country.


AMANPOUR: One of the big problems is that Europe had members of the E.U. refused a sort of quota system.


AMANPOUR: Refused — including your country.

SZIJJARTO: Absolutely.

AMANPOUR: Refused to take their fair burden sharing responsibility.

SZIJJARTO: No. I don’t agree with this part of the sentence.

AMANPOUR: Which of it, the fair?

SZIJJARTO: Yes. Because we took part in this. We have been taking part in the solidarity as we have been spending _1 billion in the last short period of time on protecting the external border of the Schengen Area of the European Union. And yes, we do not agree with the quota system. Because quota system is, number one, violating sovereignty of countries because it is you, you have to make a decision whom you’re allow to come to your country. And number two, quota system is an invitation, is an encourage for further migratory base. And this is something that we reject.

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane Amanpour interviews Michael Lewis, author of “The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy,” “Moneyball,” & “The Big Short;” and Peter Szijjarto, the Hungarian Foreign Minister. Michel Martin interviews Larry Ward, the Chief Marketing Officer at Gun Dynamics.