Budapest, December 9 (MTI) – Negotiations are ongoing between member states of the Visegrad Group on protecting the European Union’s external border by helping to build a border fence along the Macedonian-Greek border, Hungary’s defence minister said on Wednesday.
Speaking to journalists after reviewing a joint Hungarian-Czech army training programme with his counterpart, Istvan Simicsko said that a decision on providing help to Macedonia had not yet been made and it was ultimately up to the prime ministers of each V4 country to approve the initiative. At the same time, he voiced hope that the V4 defence ministers meeting next Thursday in Prague would discuss the matter.
Martin Stropnicky said the issue would indeed be on the agenda of next week’s meeting. It is likely that police rather than soldiers would be sent to the Macedonian border, he said. It is a sensitive issue, he said, but it must be stated that Macedonia cannot properly see to border protection over the long term.
Simicsko reiterated that Hungary believes that the Schengen’s external borders should be properly protected against the influx of migrants. The first port of call, from this point of view, is Greece, he said, adding that there were numerous reasons why sufficient border protections were not being implemented there.
He said the situation would have turned out to be impossible to handle had Hungary not built its own border fence. The minister noted that 5,600 soldiers were taking part in protecting Hungary’s border.
The Czech minister said that some countries that once strictly condemned Hungary for its border policy were now considering building a physical barrier. The Czech Republic has an interest in the success of Hungary’s measures, he added.
Simicsko said Hungary would seek broader V4 cooperation in army affairs in the future.