Sándor Pintér, the interior minister, said that by defending its own borders Hungary is also protecting the public security of other EU countries.
At the meeting, Pintér briefed his counterparts on how Hungary is going about protecting the external Schengen borders as well as forms of international cooperation the country is now engaged in and future related plans. Whereas Hungary “is ready to cooperate and accept proposals”, it will not agree to the mandatory relocation of migrants, he said, adding that this was a matter of sovereignty. Czechia’s Vít Rakušan said joint action was required to handle migration and protecting the external borders was a common interest. Given pressure from the Western Balkan migration corridor, law enforcement cooperation with third countries would continue, he said, noting that Czech police have been involved in border protection since 2015, and Czechia plans to continue this assistance in 2024. The ministers agreed to hold regular meetings to evaluate migration processes, he said, adding that controlling internal borders was far less preferable than protecting the external borders. A common European solution was needed, he said, but finding a compromise “is not straightforward”. Germany’s Nancy Faeser the pressures of secondary migration had led many member states to introduce internal border controls, even though all EU countries preferred open borders within the EU. She said joint action against people smuggling was required and Frontex must be strengthened. Protecting human rights was “the basis of European cooperation”, she said, adding that this was especially so in the case of migration policy and the defence of the external borders. Austria’s Gerhard Karner said his visit to Hungary had highlighted the importance of protecting the external borders, noting that Austrian, Czech and Slovak police officers were assisting these efforts effectively. Slovakia’s Matúš Šutaj Eštok said his country stood ready to provide help in protecting the bloc’s external borders, and the state of affairs was “favourable right now” thanks to “the action of the Serbian authorities and the weather” but preparations were needed to handle what would inevitably be renewed migration pressure in the spring. Poland’s Bartosz Grodecki, the deputy interior minister, said the Schengen zone was a core value of the EU that must be maintained.