Budapest, December 28 (MTI) – Europe is likely to face the same kind of migration pressure in 2016 as it has this year but the Hungarian government will continue to do its utmost to protect the country’s borders, the prime minister’s chief domestic security advisor said on Monday.
Assessing the migration crisis of 2015, Gyorgy Bakondi told a press conference that a total of 1.5 million illegal migrants made their way to Europe over the course of the year, 400,000 of whom had passed through Hungary.
He said authorities are finding more and more individuals among the migrants with ties to the Islamic State terrorist organisation, which he said could lead in Europe to a growing backlash against illegal migration in 2016.
Bakondi reiterated that Hungary would continue to reject the European Union’s planned migrant quota scheme aimed at distributing migrants among EU member states.
He said that while the EU’s response to the crisis was belated and misguided, the Hungarian government’s handling of the crisis was successful. Despite a lack of support from the opposition, the government did everything it could both from a financial and legal standpoint to resolve the crisis, he added.
Bakondi said Hungary aims to continue its cooperation with the other three Visegrad Four (V4) countries in protecting the borders of the Schengen area.
He said the V4 cooperation has demonstrated that Brussels could protect the EU’s borders from the migrants “who pose security, health, economic, social and political risks” if it were truly committed to doing so.
The security advisor said that out of the 400,000 migrants who had passed through Hungary in 2015, 158,000 claimed to be Syrian citizens, 73,000 said they were Afghan nationals and authorities were unable to determine the nationalities of the other 36,000 migrants.
He said the successful implementation of the EU’s agreement with Turkey and proper protection of Greece’s border would help ease Europe’s migration pressure next year. In November, the EU reached a deal with Turkey that would see Ankara take steps to cut the flow of migrants into Europe in exchange for EU money and help with its bid to join the union.
Bakondi said if Slovenia’s external border were to be fully sealed, migrants could potentially alter their routes by trying to cross into the EU through Romania. He said if migrants would try to cross into Hungary from that direction, the government would be ready to set up a fence on its border with Romania just as it had on the southern border with Serbia.
He said Hungarian authorities have yet to uncover any information that would warrant raising the country’s terror threat level from medium to high.