Border agencies detained more than 700 illegal migrants at the Hungarian-Serbian border in January, the prime minister’s chief domestic security advisor told public news channel M1 on Tuesday.
Most of them sought to enter Hungary by hiding in a vehicle, György Bakondi said.
Hungary has strengthened its double border fence with technical equipment, increased its police staff, reviewed the sources of support for NGOs helping migrants, and trained its authorities to handle an increased wave of migrants, he said.
“Tight border control is where the stability of Hungary’s domestic security starts,” he said.
There are more than 70,000 migrants en route through the Balkans to Europe, most of them from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Algeria, Bakondi said.
What is at stake at the EP elections is whether or not we can protect Europe from immigration
“The most important stake of the EP elections is whether or not we will be able to protect Europe from immigration and pro-immigration politicians”, Bakondi declared in a statement to reporters on Monday.
“Last year, Hungary made several efforts to guarantee security, and the implementation of measures aimed at security will continue this year”, Mr. Bakondi highlighted.
The Chief Security Advisor said the fact that there are no extremist public security events or no-go zones in Hungary, and that the maintenance o the domestic security situation can be guaranteed, was one of the greatest achievements of 2018.
“One of the important issues relating to the migration situation if the protection of the external border, in support of which Hungary has been consequently speaking out at international forums since 2015, and the importance of which also began to be voiced by European Union bureaucracy and many politicians last year”, he explained.
“The Italian government measures have shown that mass illegal migration can also be stopped along maritime borders, meaning that stopping migration is simply a matter of political will”, he pointed out.
“The main directions of the Western Balkan migration route have changed from the earlier Macedonia–Serbia–Hungary route to the Macedonia–Serbia–Bosnia-Hercegovina–Croatia–Slovenia or Albania–Montenegro–Bosnia-Hercegovina–Croatia–Slovenia route”, he stated. “After setting out from Turkey, immigrants often aim for the Turkish-Greek land border instead of for the Greek islands”, he added.
“According to estimates for January 2018, there were 60 thousand illegal migrants on the Balkan route, and during the same period this year the number of registered immigrants is 70 thousand”, Mr. Bakondi said.
“With relation to the main direction, 62.5 thousand people arrived in Spain last year, an increase of 120 percent, 23 thousand arrived in Italy, which represents a decrease of 80 percent, and 32 thousand arrived in Greece”, he listed. Some five thousand people attempted to cross the border illegally into Hungary last year, of whom 4292 were apprehended in the immediate vicinity of the border, while the others were found in other parts of the country, he continued.
“The implementation of security measures will continue this year, including the modernisation of police equipment and infrastructure development projects the funding for which is being provided by a programme that has a budget of some 97 billion forints (EUR 300 million)”, he stressed.
“Last year, the number of stand-by police increased by three thousand, and the Office of Immigration and Asylum was reorganised”, the Chief Advisor reminded the press.
“Over the past three years, Hungary has spent one billion euros on border protection, of which 300 million euros were accepted by the European Commission, but the money is yet to be transferred”, he explained.
From amongst the measures introduced, Mr. Bakondi mentioned support for conflict zones, national legislation and stricter asylum regulations.
He objected to the fact that while 40 countries, including 9 EU member states, had not voted to adopt the UN Global Compact for Migration, the EU has recently made several attempts to incorporate it into the mandatory system of regulations.
In reply to a question, the Chief Security Advisor said: 815 people have been apprehended at the Hungarian border so far this year on suspicion of people smuggling. 47 people have submitted requests for asylum since 1 January.
“Activity is being seen along the migration route, and if Croatian police continue their efforts and Slovenian border protection is successful, then traffic could move towards other countries, for instance Romania”, he explained. The Hungarian Government is closely monitoring events and is taking the necessary action, he stated. “The Hungarian border is capable of withstanding a much higher level of migration pressure than currently”, Mr. Bakondi declared.