24th Mar 2018

Eastern EU states agree joint border patrols

  • The eastern EU members will help control Hungary's border with Serbia (Photo: Jacksoncam)

The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland have agreed to send dozens of police and military officers to Hungary’s frontier with Serbia to reinforce border controls in a joint effort they say could serve as model for the rest of the EU.

The prime ministers of the so-called “Visegrad Four” said in a statement on Thursday (15 October) ahead of the meeting of EU leaders that, following Hungary’s request, they commit to help Budapest, “who currently bears the heaviest burden.”

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Over 320,000 people crossed into Hungary since the start of the year, most of them headed for Austria and Germany.

The V4 reiterate that “the protection of the Schengen border ranks high on the priority list as it represents a basic precondition to manage the current migratory pressure.”

The Czech Republic and Slovakia will each deploy 50 police officers, and Poland will send 50-60 officers. The Czech Republic also committed up to 100 military officers.

Poland will send five surveillance vehicles, along with five personnel carriers.

The countries are now discussing details, as some of the officers have already arrived in Hungary. There is no specific date for the operation to start.

“This could be a model on EU level on how to tackle the refugee crisis, with direct help to the most effected countries,” a source told this website.

The V4 agreement is on a regional basis, and is not part of the EU's wider efforts to control and stem the flow of people into Europe.

The equipment and personnel is being deployed to Hungary's border with Serbia, which has been effectively closed with a razor wire fence since 15 September. Registration centres have been set up along the legal border crossings, dealing with people seeking international protection.

According to sources, the Visegrad countries specifically did not want their officers to be deployed along the Croatian border, arguing that they are interested in protecting the EU’s external borders.

Hungary has also set up a fence along its border with Croatia, as masses of refugees and migrants took a detour from the Serbian frontier towards Croatia.

Zagreb is transporting the refugees and migrants to Hungary, which takes them to Austria, creating a corridor.

Hungary wants to shut this corridor by closing the border with Croatia.

Prime minister Viktor Orban arriving to the EU summit on Thursday said Budapest can make a decision on closing the Croatian border as early as Friday.

The Hungarian leader also gave assurances to the Visegrad countries that his country's armed forces will remain the first line of defence in case of conflict.

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