Hungarian lawmakers are expected to debate about the possible involvement of the Hungarian army next week in order to help police in the face of the wave of migrants crossing into the EU. The cabinet has discussed the option of using the army to secure the country’s southern border but any decision will be made by the Hungarian Parliament, government spokesman Zoltán Kovács told Reuters. Meanwhile Hungary’s police force is setting up a border police directorate and dispatching 2,106 extra police officers to bolster controls at the Hungarian-Serbian border, the national police chief said.
The directorate’s command centre will operate from Sept. 1 in the city of Szeged and a sub-unit will also operate in nearby Kiskunhalas, Károly Papp told a press conference. Police helicopter units and mounted patrols with dogs will be deployed, he added. The directorate will oversee six border control units staffed by 876 police college graduates. These will start operating on September. 15, Papp said, noting the option of increasing their staff to up to 3,600. Firearms will not be used against any illegal border-crossers but other legal means of enforcement may be used, said Papp.
Frontex, the EU border protection agency, has dispatched 50 officers of its Schengen border control unit to serve along the Hungarian-Serbian border, Papp said. There are seven official crossing points along the Hungarian-Serbian border section, three of which are operating around the clock, Papp said. Papp noted that 152,000 illegal entries have been recorded this year, with migrants arriving from 67 countries. Most of those seeking asylum are Syrian, followed by Afghan, Kosovar, Tanzanian, Yemeni, Chinese and Cuban nationals.
Whilst the Hungarian government deploys its entire policy armoury to protect the European Union Schengen border, it is also defending the right to free move within the bloc, the head of a leading Hungarian think-tank told public radio. Head of the Századvég Foundation Balázs Orbán said that there are not only external problems at stake but internal ones posed by the migration crisis which hinge on the issue of trust between EU member states.
He said Schengen cooperation boiled down to whether or not one member state could safely hand over the task of protecting its border to another member state. If the western states give up cooperating and lose trust then this will affect the everyday lives of Hungarians since this would also call into question the principle of free movement across borders within the bloc, he added.
via hungarymatters.hu and MTI photos: Zoltán Balogh and Sándor Ujvári – MTI