All three major European migration routes are currently active, the prime minister’s chief domestic security advisor said on Thursday.
Speaking at a press conference, György Bakondi said it was clear that there is an increasingly strong migrant presence in Europe.
He said this indicated that scenarios concerning the integration of migrants into European society had failed, adding that Europeans were also expressing increasingly negative opinions about migrants.
The Hungarian government is consistent in its position that border patrol is a fundamental security criterion, Bakondi said, and stressed that only people who have been properly screened could be allowed into the European Union‘s territory. Further, the problems which are the root causes of migration should be dealt with where they arise, he added.
He noted the government’s position opposing the relocation of migrants within the EU and calls to open the bloc’s borders.
As regards the three major migration routes, Bakondi said recent reports about the Balkans route indicated that there are currently 3.5 million Syrian citizens in Turkey of whom 31 percent work while 42 percent would be ready to set off for Europe immediately.
Greece, which currently has 62,400 registered migrants, receives a daily average of 70-73 migrants from Turkey, he said. Macedonia has around 200 migrants compared with Serbia’s 5,500 of whom 600 are staying near the Hungarian border. There are some 2,300 migrants stranded in Bulgaria, while Romanian police apprehended 2,500 illegal entrants in the first half of the year, he added. Bakondi said there were around 600 migrants stranded in Croatia and around 270 in Slovenia.
Concerning Hungary, he said a total of 19,000 people attempted to enter the country illegally last year. There were altogether 7,300 attempts at illegal entry into Hungary between the beginning of this year and March 28 when the country’s tightened asylum rules came into effect, he added. A further 4,200 people tried to enter Hungary illegally over the remainder of the first half of the year, he said.
Bakondi highlighted a significant increase in the number of illegal migrants who had been apprehended on the Hungarian-Romania border. While only 57 migrants attempted to enter Hungary along this section in 2016, a total of 374 illegal migrants have tried to enter so far this year. In contrast, illegal border crossing attempts along the Hungarian-Ukrainian border have dropped with a total of 131 migrants apprehended altogether last year compared with just 20 over the first half of 2017, he added.
He said 2,226 asylum applications have been submitted in Hungary so far this year compared with a total of 29,432 last year and over 177,000 in 2015. So far this year, 462 applications have been approved compared with 438 last year and 508 the year before.
As regards the situation along the western Mediterranean route, Bakondi said 9,507 people had arrived in Europe from that direction by the end of June, which he said was a significant increase over the roughly 5,000 people who arrived along this route last year.
Citing data from early July, he said 95,086 migrants have arrived in Europe this year along the third migration route, the Mediterranean passage. Among them 7,390 have been relocated, which he said was 18 percent of the number of migrants Europe had originally agreed on relocating.
On the topic of French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to set up migrant hotspots in Libya where asylum requests could be reviewed, Bakondi said this plan was strikingly similar to the one the Hungarian government had put forward two years ago.
Photo: MTI/AP/Santi Palacios