György Bakondi, the prime minister’s chief domestic security advisor, held talks on the migration situation, Hungarian-Serbian security cooperation and other security issues in Belgrade on Friday.
Addressing a joint press conference with István Pásztor, head of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (VMSZ), Bakondi said his talks had focused mainly on the protection of the Hungarian-Serbian border, attempts by illegal migrants to breach the border, people smuggling, the situation in Afghanistan, the growing number of Afghan asylum seekers, as well as cooperation between the Hungarian and Serbian authorities.
Bakondi said he had also discussed with his partners the so-called mini-Schengen, a border-free travel and business zone set up by Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia, which he said could boost cooperation among those countries.
Migration pressure is growing on the border, Bakondi said, noting that police have apprehended a total of 54,907 illegal border crossers so far this year compared with 17,000 at this point in 2020. Police have also arrested 523 people smugglers this year compared with 206 in the same period last year, he added. More than half of all illegal border crossers this year have claimed to be from Afghanistan, whereas before, most of them had come from Syria, Bakondi said.
“But the situation in Afghanistan and overall the situation in 2021 is different than it was in 2015,” the security advisor said. By now, the European Union has also changed its approach to migrants and favours protecting the bloc’s external borders, he said. Germany’s position has also changed, “though not many are acknowledging this out loud”, Bakondi said.
“We’re doing everything in our power to act in the interest of protecting the Hungarian people and to guarantee their safety, which starts with being able to decide whom we let into our country.” Bakondi said. “Migration is not a fundamental human right, and we believe we should only allow entry to those who are actually eligible for political asylum.”
Bakondi said the growing migration pressure and the situations in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Belarus and Turkey required the EU to rethink the migration policy it had pursued since 2015.
István Pásztor said Bakondi’s visit was a testament to the “excellent relations” between Serbia and Hungary. He expressed hope that the cooperation between the two countries would also be beneficial when it comes to migration and could mitigate its negative effects.
Featured photo by Lajos Soós/MTI