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European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery]

Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos during his visit to Hungary

Budapest, 17 September 2015

First of all I would like to thank Sándor Pintér and Péter Szijjártó, for their hospitality and for the frank discussions we have had during my visit.

The situation is not easy. These are very difficult times for your country, for the national authorities, for local governments and for the Hungarian people.

But you are not alone. Hungary is not alone. These are also difficult times for your neighbours too. From Greece, to Croatia, to Austria - today's challenges are shared across Europe.

Passing on the refugee problem from one country to another is not a solution. 

The times are testing our Union. And it is up to us, collectively, to show our resilience. 

The European Commission is here to help Hungary. Just as we would all EU Member States. 

Solidarity is a basic principle of the European Union. You have witnessed that solidarity firsthand when, twice in recent months, your fellow Member States responded to your call and sent you tents and blankets to respond to urgent needs.

The European Commission has proposed a system to demonstrate that same solidarity by relocating some of the people in need of international protection from the most affected Member State.

I know that Hungary does not consider itself amongst the frontline countries and I respect your position. I ask nevertheless that we are able to move ahead in alleviating some of the pressure from Greece and Italy.

We are ready to help Hungary through other means. 

We have already allocated almost 7 million euro in emergency funding for Hungary that can be used to increase the reception capacity for asylum seekers. 

This comes on top of the 85 million euro allocated to Hungary under our budget lines running until 2020.

And we will continue to work together as a Union to tackle the root causes of this refugee crisis; and to work with our neighbours - establishing a common list of Safe countries of origin and intensifying cooperation with the Western Balkan countries and Turkey.

We will work collectively to protect the Union's external borders. You are doing your part in this work I know. You also know that we do not always agree with the means used.

Walls are temporary solutions. You have seen yourself that this only serves to divert flows or escalate tensions. Violence is not the solution either. 

The majority of people arriving in Europe are Syrians. They are people in genuine need of our protection. There is no wall you would not climb, no sea you would not cross if you are fleeing violence and terror. 

I believe we have a moral duty offer them protection. It is a duty inscribed in international and European laws. It is a duty grounded in our principles. For me personally this is also a Christian duty. 

The appeal I would make to you is to continue to work with us, with the European Union, to find common and lasting solutions.

Let me be frank with you, this is not a problem that is going to go away any time soon. 

Let's make sure we are on the right side of history. 

I would like to express my thanks again. We are here to continue this cooperation in the name of the principles that unite us.

SPEECH/15/5663

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