articleimg-1
Feb 03, 2016 - Zoltán Kovács

Terrorist Groups Exploited the Migrant Route to Smuggle Fighters into Europe

The failure to strengthen Europe’s external borders in response to the migration crisis, as Prime Minister Orbán has said many times, brings real security risks.

Critics, of course, objected to his correlation, but the prime minister is not the only who has drawn a link between allowing hundreds of thousands of migrants to enter Europe unchecked and a growing threat of terrorism.

British intelligence services have warned that the Islamic State is exploiting the migrant route to smuggle terrorists into Europe. To avoid detection, they often carry quite sophisticated forged passports and pose as refugees intermingled with the thousands of others attempting to enter Europe every day.

Meanwhile, EU officials admit that they have no idea if any of those thousands of migrants currently making their way into Europe are being scanned against the Schengen Information System, or SIS, a watch list that contains information on 4,000 suspected foreign fighters as well as hundreds of thousands of stolen passports, suspect automobiles, wanted criminals and missing people. Refugees, many of whom are travelling without any passports, are meant to be logged in EURODAC, a fingerprint database used for processing asylum claims. However, in Greece fewer than one in ten migrants were registered in the summer of 2015. Another flaw in the system is that SIS and EURODAC are not synchronized, which means that suspected terrorists registering as asylum seekers are not flagged.

This is shocking information, especially following the revelation that the mastermind behind the Paris attacks entered Europe among Syrian refugees through Greece. Another gunman in the attacks was registered last year on the Greek island of Leros, as a refugee.

“European citizens are living under a threat,” Prime Minister Orbán said recently, speaking at a joint press conference in Sofia with his Bulgarian counterpart, Prime Minister Borissov. Europe needs to face the fact that this is not simply a humanitarian issue but also carries serious implications for public security. This is not the time to protect principles, he said, but the time to protect people, our citizens, from the threat of terrorism and crime.

Securing Europe’s external border, as we have said many times, must be the first order of business. A fence should be built on the Macedonian and Bulgarian borders with Greece, in order to manage what continues to be an uncontrolled flow of migrants that threatens the viability of the Schengen Area. Hungary considers it unfair that Europe is not accepting Bulgaria into Schengen, though the country has already built a fence on its border with Turkey and is protecting the frontier effectively. Bulgaria has shown that, unlike some EU member states, it takes its obligations seriously and effectively manages the influx of migrants. Of course, as Prime Minister Orbán joked about Europe’s Schengen system, it is a different question whether Bulgaria really wants to be part of a “dying institution”. Hopefully, the system can still be saved.