Hungary will protect its borders “under all circumstances” and will not let in any illegal migrants, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said after talks with Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic in Belgrade on Monday. Meanwhile, Austria sends police units to the Hungarian-Serbian border and Hungary sends police units to North Macedonia and Serbia.
“For us the security of the country and the Hungarian people comes first,” he said. The talks focused on border protection as well as the situation in Turkey and Syria, Szijjarto said. He said that developments at the Turkey-Greece border were worrying and suggested that hundreds of thousands of migrants could soon arrive in the Western Balkans.
Szijjarto said he had phoned his Greek counterpart and assured Greece of Hungary’s support. “Hungary knows what it is like when the country’s borders are under an organised attack … while the international liberal media is churning out fake news”.
The current situation also highlights the importance of the European integration of the Western Balkans, Szijjarto said, arguing that “the further south Europe’s defence lines are, the better”. He urged the EU to speed up its accession talks with Serbia, saying that the country was ready to open up five new chapters in those negotiations. Szijjarto called on the EU’s Croatian presidency to give its consent to the accession talks.
Szijjarto also had talks with Serbia’s European affairs minister Jadranka Joksimovic. At a joint press conference after the talks, both ministers spoke highly of bilateral ties, both in political and economic terms, and called Hungary and Serbia strategic partners. Joksimovic also thanked Hungary for its continued support to her country’s endeavours to join the EU.
Bakondi: ‘Massive increase’ in illegal migration since Jan 1
The number of attempts for illegal entry along Hungary’s southern borders “showed a massive increase” in the first two months of the year, Gyorgy Bakondi, chief security advisor to the prime minister, told MTI on Monday.
Bakondi said that 6,597 people had been apprehended at the Hungary-Serbia border since January 1, compared with 1,315 in the same period of 2018 and 1,534 last year.
The advisor noted that 465 illegal migrants attempted to cross the Hungary-Romania border in the same period, up from a mere 12 in 2018 and 33 in 2019. Bakondi added that at present there were 321 migrants in Hungary’s transit zone, while legal proceedings were under way against 86 suspected people smugglers.
Hungary sends police units to Serbia, North Macedonia
Hungary has sent new police contingents to help local forces patrol the borders in Serbia and North Macedonia, the national police said on Monday. The national police headquarters has sent a 30-strong contingent to North Macedonia and a 20-member unit to Serbia. The police officers will be tasked with patrolling the two countries’ borders and helping to arrest people smugglers and illegal migrants, the police said on its website. Some of the Hungarian officers will be posted in the inner parts of the two countries.
Austria to send policemen to Hungary-Serbia border
Austria is sending 21 police officers and two police dogs to serve on the Hungary-Serbia border in support of Hungary’s fight against migration, Interior Ministers Sandor Pinter of Hungary and Karl Nehammer of Austria agreed in Nickelsdorf near the Hungarian-Austrian border on Monday. After the meeting, Nehammer said Austria will also support Greece and the countries on the Balkan route of migration. Austrian forces served at Hungary’s southern border during the migration crisis in 2015, protecting both Hungary and Austria, Nehammer noted.
A migration crisis like the one in 2015 “must be avoided”, he said, adding that the Austrian authorities are much better prepared than they were then. Reacting to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s announcement that Turkey would no longer hold back migrants from Syria on their way to Europe, Nehammer said Turkey must honour its agreement with the European Union. “The EU, Austria and Hungary will not allow to be blackmailed,” he said.
Source and photo: MTI