In the early morning hours of this past Saturday, the people of Subotica, a Serbian city located less than 10 kilometers from the Hungarian border, were woken up by the sounds of weapons being fired, ambulance sirens, and victims screaming in pain. While press reports vary on the number of dead and injured, Serbian police authorities are currently investigating what appears to be an armed showdown between two rival migrant gangs in an abandoned forest area close to Subotica’s suburbs.
The details of the case are still blurry, but it is certain that the shooting is merely a symptom of a much greater problem that has been largely ignored by every other EU member besides Hungary for the last couple of years. And the war in Ukraine is just speeding up the process. Let me explain.
One of the indirect outcomes of the war in Ukraine, a country responsible for 10 percent of global wheat and 15 percent of global corn production, is that shortages of food supplies can already be felt in the poorest regions of Africa and Asia. Due to these shortages, an increasing number of people are currently setting out on the journey to Europe, further amplifying the migration challenge. In turn, the demand for the shady services of human traffickers will also grow, bringing about a drastic increase in the number of active people smugglers on Hungary’s borders.
We have some scary statistics to back this up. In 2021, Hungarian border protection forces captured around 400 human traffickers. Meanwhile, in the first seven months of 2022, we have already arrested 750.
So, the migration pressure continues to spike, and the rest of Europe has been turning a blind eye for years. There is, however, one aspect that other EU leaders must understand.
Right now, Hungary is absorbing the blows that the rest of Europe would otherwise be receiving. But if we run out of resources, and illegal migrants enter Hungary, sooner or later they’ll appear at the Austrian-Hungarian border and continue their journey westwards. By protecting our borders, Hungary is, essentially, protecting the whole of Europe. Common sense therefore dictates that the European Union would provide financial assistance to support us in fulfilling our border protection duties.
So, how much have they contributed so far? Pennies, just over 2 percent of our multi-billion euro border protection costs. It’s really a shame.
So far, we’ve been getting by on a limited budget by deploying police and military troops on the border. But now, with a war raging on our eastern flanks, every minute not spent by our soldiers preparing for war and strengthening their defense capabilities is unaffordable and a waste of time.
The time has come to set up a new border protection system, one dominated by squadrons of freshly recruited and freshly trained border rangers overseen by the Interior Ministry. This, however, is no small task, as we are not talking about tens or hundreds of people, but between 2,000 and 4,000 recruits.
According to Prime Minister Orbán, “if you look at the situation in the south, you’ll see that people smugglers and illegal migrants are becoming increasingly violent, and you can’t defend yourself against violence with teddy bears and bouquets of flowers. So now we will need a few thousand well-trained border rangers over the coming months.”