Hungary’s foreign minister has insisted that citizens of the country living elsewhere in the European Union are “not migrants”.
Speaking to Euronews Political Editor Darren McCaffrey, Péter Szijjártó said it was “not fair to confuse migration with the free flow of labour within the European Union.”
The government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has promoted anti-migration policies both domestically and within the EU, calling for “anti-migration politicians” to take over Europe’s institutions after the upcoming elections.
But when faced with headlines from British newspapers about alleged crimes by Hungarian and Eastern European citizens in the UK, Szijjártó insisted they couldn’t be described as “migrants”.
“They are not migrants. You know, it's very unfair what you suggest now. It's extremely unfair and not true by the way,” Szijjártó told Euronews’ McCaffrey.
“One of the pillars of the European integration is the free flow of labour. And putting [an] equality sign between the free flow of labour and illegal migration — this is something insane,” he said.
The politician added that the issues Hungary faced with migration were not comparable to the situation in the UK.
“I don't know about 400,000 Hungarians as illegal migrants marching through the territory of the UK, disrespecting the rules and regulations, disrespecting the way British people live, disrespecting the expectations of worst behaviour. Because that happened in my country,” he said.
“Those around 200,000 Hungarians who are living in the UK are contributing to the success to the EU and the UK itself. And we can be proud of them. Don't put them into the same category because it's an insult to Hungary."
Some 5.2% of Hungarians of working age (20-64) were living in another EU member state in 2017, according to Eurostat data.
You can watch the full clip of the Euronews interview in the player above.
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