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Feb 13, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

PM Orbán warns of growing migration pressure at Hungary’s southern border

Visiting Hungary’s southern border fence alongside Slovak PM Peter Pellegrini earlier today, Prime Minister Orbán said that with spring weather right around the corner, migrants are expected to arrive in even larger masses and in a more organized manner.

In a brief press conference following a visit to Hungary’s southern border fence near Röszke earlier today, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán warned of a growing, more organized migration pressure as the weather gets warmer. (Read more about recent illegal border-crossing attempts here, here and here.)

Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini made the visit with PM Orbán, who thanked his counterpart for Slovakia’s support in keeping the Schengen border secure. PM Orbán said that “here we don’t only protect the Hungarian border, but also the Slovak. This is a difficult job, one that we wouldn’t be able to carry out without help from our allies.” He had invited his “Slovak colleague” to visit the border fence because “the situation has changed recently; the number of illegal attempts has increased dramatically.”

Although in Europe it is “forbidden” to talk about an “organized invasion,” PM Orbán argued that the image painted by the international press “doesn’t square with reality,” as 95 percent of migrants are military-aged men.

“The [Hungarian] border is not closed,” PM Orbán said, then explaining the details of the asylum process. If somebody wants to enter Hungary’s territory, they “knock on the door,” tell us what they want and file a claim, and the proceedings begin. Those who opt for this method may wait in the transit zone as long as their claim is awaiting approval. “If the claim is granted, they may enter Hungary. Otherwise, they have to leave the transit zone, which is closed towards Hungary but open towards Serbia,” the prime minister said.

If everyone would behave accordingly, the PM continued, then “life would be easy.” “The majority don’t do this; they choose the illegal path. Recently [illegal migrants] have begun storming the fence in groups; it was the first time [border guards] had to fire in the air,” PM Orbán said.

Slovak PM Peter Pellegrini said that the Hungarian border is also a Schengen border, therefore its protection is “extraordinarily important.”

“Slovakia takes care of its eastern border with Ukraine, but in terms of the southern border, we must rely on Hungary,” Pellegrini said, adding that bilateral relations between the two countries are “friendly in all areas,” including its partnership in border protection.