Hungarian police deny "leaky" border alleged by Austrian DefMin

Article published on July 31, 2007
Article published on July 31, 2007
August 6, 2008 Border patrols by the Austrian army continue despite Hungary’s accession to the Schengen zone. ”Hungarian guards do not always carry out checks with sufficient rigour along the Ukrainian border, as the ethnic Hungarian minority there does not want another Iron Curtain,” outgoing Austrian Defence Minister Norbert Darabos told reporters.

Darabos said those Austrians living near the border would prefer to persuade the armed forces to stay in the area, as although crime has not grown since the neighbouring countries joined the Schengen Zone, the presence of the army is a deterrent and enhances the feeling of security. Darabos said that despite it being a sharply controversial matter internationally he had had to keep Austrian forces at the Hungarian border although it was part of the internal European Union border regime - known as the Schengen zone - because the Hungarians were lax in controlling the Ukrainian border.

Hungarian Police categorically denied that the Hungarian border with Ukraine was "leaky," and that Austria needed extra protections to keep out illegal immigrants. In his response to the Austrian critics, Maj. Gen. István Samu, head of law enforcement at Hungary’s National Police, said Austria has never raised any objections through its officials on duty nor through diplomatic channels about Hungarian border guards. EU's own border monitoring agency Frontex, had not criticised Hungary even once, he noted. Samu explained that when illegal immigrants cross from one EU country to another, the country that apprehends them has the right to return them to the country they crossed over from. That being the case, in the first half of 2007, before Hungary joined the Schengen zone, Austria apprehended and returned 136 illegals. In the first half of 2008, they returned 20. If the Hungarian border is leaky as the Austrian defense minister alleges, said Samu, why isn't Austria returning more immigrants?

Hungarian officials acknowledged an agreement with Austria regarding joint patrols of the Hungarian-Serbian border, since it is a particularly sensitive one. There had been a similar accord allowing an Austrian presence on the Hungarian-Ukrainian border, and during that time, no concerns had been raised about lax security. In the first half of 2008, Hungary apprehended 9 percent more illegals on the Ukrainian border than a year ago. It halted 77 percent more on the Romanian border and 115 percent more on the Serbian border.

Schengen system accession a success

August 1, 2008

Hungary’s entry into the Schengen border control system helped to reduce illegal migration by 19% in the first half of the year compared to the same period of 2007 according to the Hungarian National Police.

Schengen expansion gets final OK

December 7, 2007

EU interior and justice ministers yesterday gave final approval to the expansion of the Schengen zone to include Hungary and eight other countries, at a meeting in Brussels. From December 21 border checks will disappear at Hungary’s frontiers with Slovakia, Slovenia and Austria. Hungarian Justice and Law Enforcement Minister Albert Takács told reporters in Brussels after the meeting that 10-12 government decrees and lower level regulations related to the change remain to be drafted. The government will stage large-scale ceremonies to make Schengen accession a memorable event, Takács added.

Frattini promises Schengen by Christmas

July 31, 2007

“Hungary and the countries that joined the EU in 2004 will be permitted to join the Schengen border-checking agreement before Christmas,” EU Interior and Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini promised at the regular meeting of ambassadors to Hungary on his short visit in Budapest.

“The new EU member states can link to the Schengen IT network in September, and political authorization is expected in November,” Frattini pledged. “The Schengen system will be expanded by mid-December, thus we can visit family members and relatives at Christmas as if no borders exist,” Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány said. Frattini said “the US Interior Secretary told me a few weeks ago that the US will approve a new law giving equal visa rights to all citizens of EU member states. We cannot accept the US discriminating between EU member states, when its citizens can move freely through all EU member countries without a visa,” Frattini underlined. Gyurcsány thanked Frattini and added that “Hungary cannot achieve results on visa issues against the US single-handedly, but only with the help of Brussels and Frattini.” “The EU will approve a new anti-terror legislation package in the autumn, criminalising the dispersal of bomb-making information,” Frattini concluded.