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New Defense Minister: Hungary Can Protect Its Schengen Border

By Tamás Székely // 2015.09.10.

Hungary can protect its own and the European Union’s Schengen borders and will prove that ability, István Simicskó, the new Hungarian defense minister, told public television M1. He said that Hungary’s defence system can and must be used to prevent a “new type of migration” across the country, compromising the security of its residents.

Asked how the military would be used along the border, the new defense minister said soldiers would assist the police. “Each army has a basic task, a task in protecting the country, a task to deter, to coerce, or to demonstrate power.” The military will need to convey the message that those who enter legally, will receive fair treatment, while illegal immigrants will be prosecuted, he said. The minister also said that early completion of the fence along Hungary’s border with Serbia was of key importance.

Meanwhile ruling-party members of parliament’s defence and law enforcement committee, together with Jobbik lawmakers, supported a bill allowing police and the army to work together in handling the migration crisis. The bill requires a two-thirds majority to pass in the House. Socialist and Democratic Coalition (DK) members of the committee voted against the motion. Among the bill’s proposals is to allow police and border police to work together with national security services on intelligence operations abroad for law enforcement and crime prevention purposes. Another is to allow police broader powers in migration crisis situations where epidemic-related measures may need to be taken.

The bill would give the army the power to use weapons when undertaking such tasks as border protection, conflict control or blocking violent acts targeting border peace in times of crisis. The army, however, would not narrow the scope of police authority, but would provide support only, the bill says. Soldiers would have the power to stop vehicles, secure and seal off areas, use force and take measures some of which may curtail individual rights. Soldiers may use weapons as means of law enforcement but, with the exception of a threat of death or serious bodily harm, cannot aim to kill, it said. The law, if passed, would come into force on September 15.

By Thursday morning the number of migrants waiting at Budapest’s Keleti railway station has reached 2,000,Tibor Lakatos, a senior officer of the national police, told the press. Lakatos said the police were working to direct the illegal migrants to reception points of the immigration office. Lakatos said that some 1,000 police officers were working along the Hungary-Serbia border in the south. He said that since January this year, nearly 176,000 illegal entries had been reported, and proceedings had been initiated against 1,014 people smugglers. On Wednesday alone, 3,000 immigrants crossed the border illegally as immigrants had filed a total 161,884 asylum applications this year in Hungary.