The PM of Hungary, Viktor Orban, once again criticized the EU policy on immigrants.
After around 300,000 migrants transited Hungary in mid-2015 en route to Western Europe, Hungarian authorities halted this flow by sealing its Serbian border in September and its Croatian border a month later. The decision to put up barbed wire fences was heavily criticised by Brussels and Western capitals, but it nonetheless enabled Budapest to redirect migrants to Slovenia.
Recently, Hungary has announced that the number of people entering the country illegally is once again on the rise. This comes after neighbouring Austria announced it would tighten border checks and restrict the number of people who may get on its territory. Among the immigrants there are a growing number of people coming from North Africa, Kosovo, Pakistan, but also from Sri Lanka or Haiti, whose chances to get asylum in the EU are very low, unlike those of Syrian refugees.
As pressure mounts at his country’s borders, PM Viktor Orban ordered the preparation of defence lines along the frontier with Romania. This is not a new idea. Back in November 2015, Hungarian officials had announced plans to build a metal fence at the border with Romania, if necessary. As the Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in January, Budapest is ready to build the fence on its Romanian border “the next day.” The same official argued that the measures are in full compliance with international and national regulations, and warned all those who criticised his country that, by protecting the Schengen border, Hungary was fulfilling its obligations, as defined by the EU legislation.
In his annual address this past weekend, PM Viktor Orban announced having sent new military units to the border regions, having activated an emergency response service in two border counties and having instructed his defence and interior ministers to make preparations for the defence line on the Hungarian-Romanian border. Orban added that, if necessary, the Hungarian authorities would tighten security along all its frontiers, from Slovenia to Ukraine.
At the EU summit held last week in Brussels, the EU leaders agreed that Europe’s borders need to be protected and illegal migration must be stopped, while the rules of the visa-free Schengen area must be respected by everybody.