If efforts to protect external borders fail, the Schengen area will not remain as it was in the past, Sándor Pintér, Hungary’s interior minister, said on Thursday after talks with his Visegrad Group counterparts.
Held under the aegis of Hungary’s V4 presidency, the participants decided to offer help in protecting the external Schengen borders to all countries concerned.
The four countries did so in the past, too but now, based on their positive experiences, they agreed to help as a group.
Pintér said the migration crisis would require an adequate response unlike the European Union’s current one which involves letting in everyone and then distributing them internally.
The ministers reviewed a European Commission proposal on the protection of internal Schengen borders and agreed to formulate a joint position on the basis of further expert studies, he said.
Pintér noted that the EU member states that had approved the mandatory redistribution quotas failed to fulfil their own expectations, with much fewer people being redistributed then what these countries agreed to take in. Other methods need to be sought because neither the redistribution of approved migrants nor the permanent relocation mechanism would offer a solution, he added.
Pintér said the V4 acted in line with the law and agreed that that
the Schengen treaty regulates in detail how the external borders need to be protected.
In response to a question, the minister said Bulgaria had built a 200-kilometre fence along its border, and that Hungarian border patrols were also serving there. Pending Romanian request, Hungary is also prepared to participate in protecting that country’s eastern borders, as recently stated by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Pintér said.
Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kalinak said the V4 countries have gained much respect for acting together in protecting their citizens and their proposals have been proven right by recent events. Hungary has always fulfilled Schengen regulations and Slovakia has always supported this, he added.
Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said the V4 countries have proven their solidarity by offering help to protect the external borders.
Czech deputy minister in charge of interior security Jiri Novacek said the V4’s position goes against the EC’s in line with which the redistribution of migrants is the only form of solidarity. That is not a realistic project and the V4 have warned right from the start that it would not work, he added.