Slovakia sends more police to patrol Hungarian border

Slovakia sends more police to patrol Hungarian border
Migrants wait by Hungarian border.
By bne IntelliNews August 2, 2016

A group of 25 Slovak police officers were sent to Hungary on August 1 to help protect the country's border with Serbia, Interior Minister Robert Kalinak announced.

The deployment is just the latest in a series of temporary reinforcements sent by Visegrad neighbours to Hungary over the past year or so. The Western Balkan route saw Hungary inundated with migrants seeking to cross the country last year, but the flow is reported to have all but dried up in 2016.

However, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico appears keen to keep the issue in the headlines, especially as he waits for a recent corruption scandal centered on right-hand man Kalinak to finally dissipate. Hungarian PM Viktor Orban is also happy to keep the migrant crisis on the agenda, given the way it has revived support for his Fidesz party over the past couple of years.

Orban is preparing for a referendum on the EU's efforts to apply migrant quotas on member states in order to alleviate pressure on frontline states. He is also pushing an alternative proposal backed by the rest of Visegrad to reinforce the EU's external borders, such as Hungary's line with Serbia.

Kalinak reported that the police group will remain in Hungary for at least one month. After that the decision will depend on the requirements of the Hungarian authorities, he noted, according to TASR. "We believe that even now they'll significantly contribute towards detecting and detaining illegal migrants, as well as towards protecting the external border," the Slovak interior minister insisted.

The minister recalled that Slovakia last year deployed nearly 300 police officers on foreign missions to Hungary, Slovenia, Macedonia and border operations of EU agency Frontex. "We've greatly contributed towards solidarity and the fact that the EU can better cope with the migration crisis," he said.