The interior ministers of four Central European countries – Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia – agree that no one should be allowed to enter the Schengen area illegally from the Western Balkans, and therefore consider it necessary to reinforce the protection of the Hungarian-Serbian border, Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakusan revealed at a press conference after a meeting of the four interior ministers in Prague on Thursday.
Hungary considers it its duty to protect its southern borders and prevent illegal migrants from entering the Central European region, Hungarian Interior Minister Sándor Pintér told journalists. He also pointed out that more than 250,000 border crossers have already been apprehended at the southern border this year, more than double the number of last year.
Although the Hungarian border is protected by a fence and police contingents from Slovakia and the Czech Republic, among others, some migrants have still managed to enter the Schengen area. The minister thanked the countries concerned for their help, but said it was regrettable that the EU’s border protection agency, Frontex, had withdrawn from the Hungarian-Serbian border.
Illegal migration is not a problem for one country, but for the whole of Europe, and everyone should play their part in solving it,”
Slovak Interior Minister Roman Mikulec said. He announced Slovakia’s willingness to reinforce its police unit on the Hungarian-Serbian border. The Czech interior minister made a similar statement.
However, in response to a specific question, the Czech interior minister Vít Rakusan said that the controls at the Slovak-Austrian and Slovak-Czech borders should be considered as “exceptional measures” and should only be temporary. As Hungary Today reported earlier, the Czech Republic introduced controversial border controls between the Czech Republic and Slovakia for ten days on September 29. Now, the new Czech extension runs until December 12.
Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakusan said that the situation on human smuggling is not improving, so border control is still necessary.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala also pointed out on Thursday, within the margins of the V4 Heads of Government Summit, that one of the main topics of the summit would be protection against illegal migration. In his view, the protection of the Hungarian-Serbian border is the most important issue in this field. He reiterated his earlier announcement that
the Czech Republic was ready to send additional troops to Hungary in the new year, thereby reinforcing border protection there.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó also spoke about illegal migration in Barcelona on Thursday, following a meeting of foreign ministers from the European Union and the Southern Partnership countries.
According to Péter Szijjártó, “Brussels should stop its pro-migration policy.”
He said that in addition to the war in Ukraine, Europe must be prevented from being hit by new waves of mass illegal migration, as this would be too much for the continent to bear at once. He added that close cooperation with the countries of North Africa and the Middle East, which serve as a line of defense, is therefore needed.
Szijjártó stressed that the world food crisis caused by the war is hitting those countries hardest that are already in a difficult situation and are more easily destabilized.
“Therefore, the most important thing now is to prevent the global food crisis from triggering new waves of migration, because these would also be heading for Europe, and Europe is not in a position to face two security challenges at the same time,” the minister said.
Featured photo via MTI/AP/Szerb belügyminisztérium