Poland, Warsaw – “Poland will be sending another contingent to support Hungary’s border protection system”, Polish Minister of Interior Mariusz Błaszczak announced following a meeting of Visegrád Group (V4) Interior Ministers in Warsaw.
In addition to the hosting Polish Minister, the meeting was also attended by Hungarian Interior Minister Sándor Pintér, Slovakian Minister of Interior Robert Kalinák and Czech Deputy Interior Minister Jiri Novácek.
At the press conference following the meeting, Mr. Pintér said: Hungary turned to its Visegrád partners for assistance “in the interests of the implementation and international enforcement” of its new border protection system, which came into force in the beginning of July. Hungary will not only be receiving support from the V4; it is hoped that Thursday’s visits by the Austrian Minister of Defence and Minister of Interior will also have a similar result, he pointed out. Thanking his Visegrád colleagues for the assistance they have provided to Hungary so far to protect its Schengen borders, Mr. Pintér said “This has helped us allow significantly fewer illegal immigrants to reach the Schengen Area”.
With relation to Hungary’s new border protection system involving inland border surveillance that came into force on 5 July, the Hungarian Interior Minister said: Thanks to the new system only 17 immigrants have reached Hungary since its launch. The new border surveillance system “also ensures that more people can submit asylum requests, which we can evaluate according to European standards”, Mr. Pintér said at the press conference.
Mr. Pintér described the Warsaw negotiations as a “stop-gap meeting”, because in accordance with the agreement concluded between the V4 Interior Ministers it introduces the tradition of regular consultations in view of the fact that the Polish Interior Minister announced that the Group’s Interior Ministers would in future not meet to discuss actual problems on an ad hoc basis, but would sit down to the negotiating table regularly, prior to every single meeting of EU Interior Ministers.
Mariusz Błaszczak declared: Under the current Polish Presidency of the V4, which began on 1 July, the Visegrád Group will continue its endeavours to reduce migration pressure, which characterised the previous, Czech Presidency.
On the subject of the Ministers’ joint standpoint, Mr. Błaszczak said they have a negative assessment of the compulsory refugee resettlement mechanism. This “has been working for a year with very poor results”, he said, referring to the one-off compulsory quota adopted last September, which Hungary and Slovakia have disputed at the European Court of Justice.
With relation to handling illegal immigration, Mr. Błaszczak confirmed that the protection of the external EU border will remain a priority from the perspective of the V4 and reminded the press about the existing Polish presence along the Greek-Macedonian and Bulgarian-Turkish borders.
The Polish Interior Minister said Hungary had accepted Poland’s offer of support towards the protection of the Hungarian border, the details of which are still being discussed. “We will be sending a contingent that fulfills Hungarian expectations”, he said, without going into further detail.
Last year, Poland sent 55 border guards to Hungary, who were involved in protecting the border for a month together with Hungarian police. Their tasks included guarding the green border, patrolling and monitoring the border on foot and using vehicles, and supporting inland document checks.
Robert Kalinák and Jiri Novácek also stressed: Parallel to the Polish presidency of the Visegrád Group, Slovakia has taken over the rotating presidency of the European Union and the Czech Republic is the current president of the Central European internal security partnership known as the Salzburg Forum, and accordingly “the common voice of the Visegrád Group countries may become even stronger” in the coming months with regard to internal security issues.