A meeting to review illegal migration in the Western Balkans was held in the Hungarian capital,
attended by representatives of 13 countries, the European Union’s border control agency Frontex and the European police cooperation organisation Europol.
The Hungarian news agency MTI quotes Hungarian Chief of Police Károly Papp by saying at the conference that “cooperation, the exchange of information and thinking together are the key to successful action against immigration.”
Lieutenant General Papp pointed out that “new challenges must be met with joint responses.”
The Chief of Police also spoke about the fact that action against illegal migration is not just a task for border control officers, but also requires the involvement of the law enforcement, public order and immigration authorities. “The complex policing task requires complex responses and action, and accordingly criminal and law enforcement must work in harmony”, he said, citing as an example action to combat people traffickers.
“Last year, Germany, Austria, Serbia and Hungary decided on joint border control action and the wave of migration from Kosovo was indeed handled successfully”, he pointed out.
However, according to the Chief of Police there was an explosive change in illegal migration in Hungary in May 2015, to which the Government responded with a three-pillar package of measures, which in addition to legislative amendment also meant the application of technical equipment, the redeployment of police forces and the establishment of a special border protection unit.
“Hungary is also monitoring its environment and has provided assistance to those who have requested it, it has for instance sent contingents of police to Serbia, Slovenia, Greece, Bulgaria and Macedonia, in addition to which Hungary has contributed basic materials towards the construction of border security fences in Slovenia and Macedonia”, Mr. Papp added.
The Lieutenant General said the measures to prevent illegal immigration along the Balkan route were of “historic proportions”, citing as an example the closure of the Greek-Macedonian border.
The National Police Commissioner said Hungary was in a unique position with respect to the fact that illegal immigrants primarily enter the territory of the European Union in Greece and Bulgaria, and only enter the territory of Hungary later.
Mr. Papp said that complying with and enforcing the stipulations of the Schengen Borders Code was a fundamental issue, adding that in his opinion illegal migrants should enter the territory of the European Union in a regulated and controlled manner. “Hungary’s legislative environment is also in harmony with this and it is in this spirit that the authorities have been performing their duties along the southern border since last September”, he continued.
He also stressed that illegal immigration is not only having an effect on the situation with relation to the threat of terrorism, but also on the general public safety situation, and as a result also on the subjective sense of security of EU citizens.
According to the National Police Commissioner, asylum rights are continuously being abused, as is the illegal immigrants’ choice of target country, in addition to which people who are applying for asylum status are repeatedly braking regulations.
In addition to Frontex and Europol, Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Croatia, Poland, Macedonia, Germany, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary were all represented at the meeting.
At the event, a quote from Regulation (EU) 2016/399 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016 on a Union Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code) was projected onto a big screen, stating: “Border control is in the interest not only of the Member State at whose external borders it is carried out but of all Member States which have abolished internal border control. Border control should help combat illegal migration and people smuggling and prevent any threat to the Member States’ internal security, public policy, public health and international relations.“