A joint press conference today was held with the prime minister’s chief security adviser, György Bakondi, at the border-crossing point in Röszke. Six years ago, it was right on this spot that hundreds of migrants armed with stones and sticks tried to force their way into Hungary. The situation has not improved much since then: Migration pressure is on the rise again, and although politicians across Europe say that the events of 2015 must be prevented from happening again, the European Union still wants to “manage” migration, instead of stopping it.
The Hungarian government, on the other hand, has been committed to defending the borders of Europe – and we have had to withstand serious political attacks because of our stance. In 2015, the construction of the fence on the Serbian and then Croatian borders was a responsible decision to stop migration — instead of letting in migrants who sought to continue to another country in any event. Thanks to the measures introduced in 2015, the number of border-crossers decreased steadily until 2018, but then started to rise again. Some upsetting data shared by György Bakondi: While last year, Hungarian police and soldiers caught 21,992 border-crossers by mid-September, this number was 73,617 at the same time this year. In addition, 719 people smugglers have been prosecuted this year compared to 274 last year.
The chief security advisor also recalled that Hungary came under attack for the construction of the border barrier despite the fact that fences have been built in several European countries, first on the Spanish-Moroccan border in 1993 and 1998 and, most recently, this year in Poland and Lithuania on the Belarusian border. He reiterated that we continue to maintain the view that our borders must be protected, migration must be stopped and the right to decide on immigration policy should remain with Member States. Problems must be solved where they arise, he said, adding that Afghanistan is a good example.
The problems of migration are with us, that is why questions on this issue were included in the 11th national consultation as well. The majority of respondents continue to reject the mandatory distribution of migrants and believe that the Hungarian government's migration policy is the right one. Hungarians have generally shared the government's migration policy over the last six years as well as its position on the protection of European borders.
It is not only in Hungary that Hungarian migrant policy is recognized as correct. As György Bakondi said earlier, the practice of fencing borders is spreading in Europe, with more and more countries realizing the need for such barriers to combat mass migration. The attitude of the European Union has also changed: It considers enhanced protection of external borders to be of great importance to prevent a migration crisis like the one in 2015.
Despite the alarming facts that people smugglers are becoming more active at the Hungarian border and migrants are increasingly trying to cross in large groups, Hungary remains committed to protecting its borders, especially the one with Serbia, the primary line of defense to stem the tide of migration.