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Hungary-Austria Summit: Cabinet Ministers Discuss Migration As Relations Appear To Recover

Ferenc Sullivan 2016.07.15.

The interior and defence ministers of Hungary and Austria have met at Röszke, on Hungary’s southern border with Serbia, on Thursday, to discuss cooperation against illegal migration.

The meeting focused on ways Austria could contribute to border control in southern Hungary, Sándor Pintér, Hungary’s Minister of Interior, told a press conference after the talks. István Simicskó, the country’s Minister of Defence, said participants discussed options for Austria to contribute actual military assistance to border control and ways of cooperation between the Austrian army and Hungary’s armed forces. The Hungarian military welcomes any kind of technical or other assistance from the Austrian side, he said.

Christian Kern, ÖBB, beim Interview im Bahnorama Foto: Clemens Fabry

New Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern’s visit later this month is hoped to mark a “new beginning” in bilateral relations (photo: Clemens Fabry/Bahnorama)

Wolfgang Sobotka, Austria’s Minister of Interior, said that protecting the Schengen borders was a shared cause and his country has contributed 20 police officers to work with Hungarians within the Frontex border control agency. He warned, however, that Frontex, with a staff of 1 500, will not be sufficient to guarantee control along all of Europe’s external borders. Thanks to Hungary’s recent measures, illegal migrants can no longer penetrate the country and reach Austria, which lifts pressure on the Hungary-Austria border, Mr. Sobotka said, adding that waiting times at crossing points had dropped below 10 minutes. The Austrian interior minister also added that participants in the meeting agreed on jointly fighting people smuggling.

Hans-Peter Doskozil, Minister of Defence of Austria’s western neighbour, pointed out that very few illegal migrants could be returned to their countries of origin under a court decision. He insisted that regional cooperation was needed rather than “waiting for all-European solutions”. Mr. Doskozil said that the Dublin regulations could not be efficiently applied for “such large numbers” of entrants. Countries along the external borders of the EU cannot handle all asylum procedures; a different approach is needed, such as procedures outside the Dublin system for returning illegal migrants, the minister claimed.

There have recently been clear signs that the Hungarian government aims to open a “new phase” in relations with the country’s western neighbour, after coming under increasing strain last year due to the handling of the migrant crisis. Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, cabinet chief János Lázár revealed that Christian Kern, the new Austrian Chancellor, is expected to visit Budapest on 26 July and economic coopeation will also be strengthened between the two countries.

via hungarymatters.hu and mandiner.hu
photo: Zoltán Gergely Kelemen/MTI

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