Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Thursday warned of increasing migration pressure on Hungary’s southern border and an expected rise in the number of organised groups of migrants attempting to enter the country as the weather improves.
Speaking to reporters after inspecting Hungary’s border fence with Peter Pellegrini, his Slovak counterpart, Orbán said the fence was also protecting Slovakia’s border.
“This is hard work which we would have a hard time doing without help and our allies,” Orbán said, expressing his gratitude for Slovakia’s support.
The prime minister said depictions of the situation at the Hungarian border in the international media were inaccurate, arguing that 95 percent of the migrants arriving at the border were “military-age men”.
“It’s forbidden to say so in Europe, but this is an organised invasion,” he said.
Orbán said the reason he had invited Pellegrini to inspect the border was that there had been a sharp rise in the number of illegal border crossings recently. More than 5,000 migrants have attempted to enter Hungary illegally so far this year, he said, adding that a lot of organised migrant groups were also coming to the border. Orbán said there were some 100,000 migrants currently on their way to Europe via the Balkan route and if Hungary let them, they would enter the country and even reach Slovakia.
Orbán expressed his gratitude to the Slovak government for the assistance it has provided to Hungary with its border protection efforts. Orbán said he and Pellegrini had strengthened their agreement under which Slovakia will be prepared to assist Hungary again if migration pressure were to rise on its border.
In response to a question, Orbán said Hungary’s border was not closed, arguing that if someone wanted to enter Hungary’s territory, they were free to “knock”, and follow the proper procedure. Those who opt for this method, he said, have to wait in the transit zone for the end of the legal procedure. During that time migrants are looked after and if their application is approved they are free to enter Hungary, but otherwise they must leave the transit zone, he added.
“If everyone acted this way life would be nice,” Orbán said. “But the majority don’t, but instead choose the illegal path.”
He said that recently groups of migrants had tried to break through the fence recently, noting that at one point warning shots had to be fired.
He said cooperation between Hungary and Serbia was good, adding that the two countries could handle the migrant situation through fair cooperation.
Orbán said Hungary’s secret service was monitoring the situation and had a clear view of “how the movement of migrants is being organised”.
Orbán insisted that the migrants were backed by organisations claiming to be NGOs operating similarly to people smuggling groups. These organisations had significant financial resources and considerable logistical capabilities, he added.
In response to another question, he said Brussels “isn’t going to give us a single cent to finance the fence because we’re on the wrong list”. Hungary was the first to build a fence on its border, “so we’re the number-one culprits”, he added.
Pellegrini stressed the importance of protecting the Hungarian-Serbian border, noting that it was also the southern border of the European Union’s passport-free Schengen zone. He said Slovakia, too, would be in trouble if the border were to be breached by migrants.
Slovakia is handling the protection of its eastern border with Ukraine but needs Hungary’s help regarding its southern border, he said.
Pellegrini said Slovakia was prepared to keep assisting Hungary with its border protection efforts with a view to keeping migrants at bay.