Illegal crossings increase on the vital Western Balkans route in first four months of 2020
The Hungarian Defense Ministry said both the armed forces and Hungarian government would do all they could to defend the country's border and maintain its border fence despite a new ruling from the European Court of Justice that Hungary illegally detained asylum seekers in transit zones.
The statement from Hungary comes at a time when the vital Western Balkans route has seen a sharp increase in crossing from illegal migrants. Despite a sharp fall in April due to the border closures prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, illegal border crossings in the Western Balkans rose by 60 percent in the first four months of the year compared with the same period of 2019, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex said in its April migration update.
"There were fewer than 100 detections of illegal border crossings recorded on this route in April, down 94% from the previous month. However, in the first four months, the number of illegal border crossings increased by 60% from the same period of last year to nearly 6,000," the Frontex report wrote.
Hungarian State Secretary of the Defense Ministry Szilárd Németh said on Sunday at the Röszke border crossing with Serbia that with the national lockdowns coming to an end, Hungary will again face increased pressure from illegal immigrants. He was speaking at the transit zone which served as the focus of the European Court of Justice (ECJ)'s ruling last week that Hungary illegally held asylum seekers there.
He reiterated the Hungarian position that the ruling intends to force Hungary to stop defending its border with a fence and allow immigrants into the country.He said that the country would do all its power to continue defending its borders.
"The Fidesz-KDNP parliamentary majority and the government will do everything in its power to maintain the [border] fence, live military and police patrols and keep the transit zones operational," Németh said.
In its update of the weekend's events, Hungarian police said officers apprehended 151 illegal immigrants and transported them back to the countries they came from as well as further 37 that have been prevented from crossing the Serbian border into Hungary.
Just last week, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó warned of a new migration wave threatening Europe in a videoconference meeting with 14 EU foreign ministers.