Defence committee member clarifies Anvelt Hungary remarks

MP Marianne Mikko (SDE).
MP Marianne Mikko (SDE). Source: Social Democratic Party

Riigikogu National Defence Committee member Marianne Mikko (SDE) said on Monday that interior minister and fellow party member Andres Anvelt's words regarding the construction of border fences could be misconstrued.

Mr. Anvelt said on Thursday, 20 September, that by building border fences, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was 'defending' Europe from migrants, adding that Estonia is prepared to follow suit if required.

Speaking on ETV's ''Studio 1'' current affairs show, Mr. Anvelt said "To protect our country, definitely,'' when asked if Estonia might follow the Hungarian example.

Not wanting internal EU fences

Mr. Anvelt also noted steps not taken at the height of the 2015-2016 migrant crisis are only now being retrospectively implemented, as well as the incidence of attempted illegal border crossings into Estonia from Russia during and after July's football world cup finals.

"In my opinion, the minister formulated his words in a way that could be interpreted as supporting the construction of fences on the internal borders of the EU,'' said Ms. Mikko, on being asked if Mr. Anvelt was speaking for SDE as a whole.

''In fact, this [ie. approving internal EU border fences] is not the case," she went on.

Estonia has an internal EU land border with Latvia, as well as an external EU border with the Russian Federation.

Solidarity and cooperation

"Both the Minister of the Interior and SDE support free movement within the EU and the survival of the Schengen zone. Here the key words are 'solidarity and cooperation'," she added.

Mr. Anvelt had said on Thursday that the Schengen Zone was a key foundation of the EU and that ''...we need solidarity for the Schengen Area to endure."

In this, Mr. Anvelt seemed to differentiate his stance from that of Viktor Orbán, despite having seemingly just noted the positives in his efforts, by implying that Estonia was acting out of solidarity rather than, presumably, taking a unilateral stance. This may also have led to the confusion and need for clarification from Ms. Mikko.

Eastern border another matter

Ms. Mikko also reiterated the importance Mr. Anvelt had placed on of maintaining the EU's external border.

Estonia is currently building its eastern border and vigorously contributing to ensuring that it, and hence the surveillance of the EU's external borders, is state-of-the-art,'' she went on.

Construction work on a permanent eastern border demarcation has been estimated, by Mr. Anvelt himself, at €190 million, with maintenance costing another €70 million to 2026.

Estonia committed to Schengen and EU external security

''We will protect not only 'our own', but also the security of our partner countries. The migration crisis can be effectively dealt with by all member states, which can play a decisive role in strengthening the EU's border and coastal surveillance and in introducing common standards, " Ms. Mikko continued.

Mr. Anvelt had also noted that Estonia was a higher than average per capita contributor to Frontex, the EU's external Schengen border policing authority.

Stressing differences with Orban

Ms. Mikko seemed keener than Mr. Anvelt to keep Hungary at arm's length, however: "Orban's governing is at odds with the rule of law in 21st century Europe,'' she said.

''I'm referring primarily to his behaviour towards the media and the Hungarian opposition, but I'm also opposed to his closeness to Vladimir Putin and to his 'anti-Soros' stance," she added.

She was referring to Mr. Orban's frequent attacks on the Hungarian-American financier George Soros, something of a byword for globalist conspiracy amongst populist circles, despite Mr. Soros in the past funding not only Mr. Orban's government, but even his studies in the UK.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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