Budapest, June 21 (MTI) – The key to combating illegal migration is cooperation and information sharing, Hungary’s police chief Károly Papp said at a meeting of thirteen European countries, EU law enforcement agency Europol and border agency Frontex in Budapest on Tuesday.
Illegal migration is not just a border protection challenge but also a criminal and public order issue, Papp said in his opening address at the meeting that focuses on the migration situation along the western Balkans route.
The complex task of tackling illegal migration calls for complex responses, requiring coordinated law enforcement and border protection efforts, the police chief said.
Papp noted that last year Germany, Austria, Serbia and Hungary had agreed to implement joint border protection measures in an effort to manage the migration wave from Kosovo.
But the migration situation in Hungary changed dramatically in May 2015. The government responded to the challenge by tightening migration laws, installing a fence on its border with Serbia and creating a new border patrol unit within its police force, he noted.
Papp thanked the countries that aided Hungary’s efforts in managing the migrant crisis, emphasising that the Polish border guard and Slovakia’s police force had been especially helpful in guarding the Hungarian-Serbian “green border”.
Hungary also helped its allies by sending police contingents to Serbia, Slovenia, Greece, Bulgaria and Macedonia, and by providing Slovenia and Macedonia with materials to build their own border fences, he said.
The police chief said Hungary was in a unique position during the crisis in the sense that it was the country through which migrants re-entered the bloc after having already entered through Greece and Bulgaria.
He said it was crucial to observe the Schengen agreement when dealing with migration, adding that migrants must only be allowed into the EU in a controlled manner. Hungary’s laws are in line with this philosophy, he said.
Papp said migration is connected to the threat of terrorism and also affects public safety as well as EU citizens’ sense of safety.
He said the abuse of the EU’s asylum system by migrants was a continued problem. More and more asylum seekers want to pick and choose their destination countries and violate EU rules, he said.
The meeting is attended by representatives of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia.
György Bakondi, the prime minister’s security advisor, told MTI after the conference that managing the migration crisis required reinforcing the “Schengen philosophy” of protecting the external borders and eliminating controls on internal borders.
Bakondi said the conference could be instrumental in preparing for consultations between the political leaders of participating countries. Such consultations could lead to a breakthrough in Europe’s efforts against migration and contribute to an effective fight against terrorism, he added.